Maharashtra farmer climbs on burning pyre, ends life

Yavatmal (Maharashtra): A debt-ridden farmer from a village in Maharashtra's Vidarbha region climbed on a lit pyre and committed suicide Wednesday, the second such incident since November last year, an activist said here Thursday.

Anandrao S. Pandagle, 45, a resident of Bhambh village, is survived by his wife and three teenaged daughters, said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari.

Preliminary police investigations revealed he had farm debts of Rs.50,000 and was trying to collect another Rs.12,000 for his eldest daughter's marriage.

"He was alone at home, poured kerosene on himself, prepared and lit his own funeral pyre before climbing on it... By the time locals rushed to help, he was burnt to death," Tiwari told IANS.

This is the second instance of its kind in the region.

On Nov 28 last year, 75-year old farmer Kashiram B. Indare of Manarkhed village lit his own funeral pyre in a field. Earlier presumed missing, his charred remains were discovered after a couple of days.

Vidarbha has been rocked by five more suicides since Wednesday, according to Tiwari, even as the desperate farmers' patience was running out in the wake of official apathy to their plight.

The victims are: Ramkrishan Bhalavi of Talni village and Ambadas Wahile of Gunji village, both in Amravati district; Sanju Gawande of Saikheda village in Washim district; Vijay Tadas of Ghorad village and Nanaji Ingole of Kanheri village, both in Wardha district.

In December, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the state government on the issue of debt-ridden farmers' suicides in Maharashtra following a public interest litigation filed by a lawyer R.U. Upadhyay.

Similarly, the National Human Rights Commission has also sent a notice to the state government seeking a report on the incident, even as the spate of farmland suicides continues unabated in Maharashtra.

Last week, the Shiv Sena strongly criticized its ruling ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party, for ignoring the plight of the farmers though Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis hails from the Vidarbha region.

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