• The Holes in our Chappals

    Farmers are killing themselves in Gujarat. 


    Amreli, Gujarat

    “Gujarat’s farmers aren’t like those in other states. Our farmers drive Maruti cars,” chief minister Narendra Modi declares in his speeches at public meetings. If he met the widows of farmers in Gujarat who have committed suicide, he would probably choke on his words.

    Prabhaben Pungalpara was at her sister’s house when her husband Ramesh hung himself from a noose and ended his misery. He probably sent her there to soften the blow. Ramesh’s relatives rushed him to Rajkot hospital but it was too late. Now, Prabhaben’s nightmare was about to begin. “I have two girls and a boy. We will have to manage somehow. I sold off our two buffaloes after he died. My son has gone to Surat to work in a diamond polishing workshop. Ramesh’s brothers have taken care of us,” says Prabhaben from Sarapdar village.

    Ramesh and his four brothers have a 20–acre farm. “Our cotton and jeera crop failed for two years, so he was very tense,” said his brother Amarsibhai. But the police report says that he killed himself because of a family dispute. “The first police report said that he died because his crop failed, but later the police changed the story,” says Prabhaben. “They told me ‘you have such a big house, there must be some other reason for the suicide. If we give compensation in one case, people will start killing themselves and we will have to give them all’. The police just want to suppress the case.”

    “If the government can help Maharashtra’s widows, then why can’t they help women in Gujarat?” asks Prabhaben. Maybe because it would shatter the chief minister’s delusions? Across Gujarat farmers’ suicides are either unreported or wrongly reported.


    Pahubhai Dakhada, 35, preferred death to a life of debt. His suicide didn’t make it to the government’s records. Photo: Dionne Bunsha

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  • Cotton Aflame

    The cotton harvest is ready. But the state hasn’t yet opened most procurement centres. At the few that are functioning, farmers have been lining up for days. The frustration has led to violence in Wani.

    in Yavatmal

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  • Vines of Debt

    Onion or grape farmers of Nashik in north Maharashtra have very little to choose to escape debt, and now death.

    in Nashik, Maharashtra

    Pandurang Kadam’s daughter-in-law Sunita with her children. Burdened by debt, Pandurang set himself on fire in the Lasalgaon market yard. Photo: Dionne Bunsha

    While writing out the receipt for Pandurang Kadam’s onion crop, the trader didn’t realise that it would be forensic evidence. The next day, 20 April 2006, Pandurang returned to the Lasalgaon market and set himself on fire. The town watched shocked as Pandurang burned in the yard where a thousand farmers’ hopes are extinguished everyday. In his pocket, they recovered the receipt. Behind it, Pandurang had written his last words.
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  • Harvest of death

    Everyday in Vidarbh, there are three suicides reported. Farmers are living only because they are not dying.

    in Wardha and Yavatmal, Maharashtra

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  • Bt rice trials uprooted

    By uprooting Bt rice trials in Tamil Nadu, farm activists and Greenpeace have stirred up the debate on GM food testing. And they have support from unlikely quarters – rice exporters.


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  • Back to the Basics

    Organic farming is not the only solution to the problems contributing to the farm crisis. However, it is the only one within the farmer’s control.


    in Wardha, Maharashtra

     WITHIN THEIR CONTROL: Farmers can get the same or a better yield without spending on pesticide and fertilizer. Photo: Dionne Bunsha Read more

  • Weddings in the time of suicide

    On the mass weddings in Vidarbha, a phenomenon that has grown due to the agrarian crisis.


    in Amaravati, Maharashtra Read more

  • Villages for Sale in Vidarbh

    To draw attention to their desperation, many villages in the suicide-ridden Vidharbh region have declared that their land and kidneys are up for sale.

    in Amravati and Wardha, Maharashtra.

    ‘Kidney Sale Centre’: proclaims a banner sprawled across a ramshackle bamboo tent in Shingnapur village in Amravati district. Farmers here are threatening to sell their kidneys.

    “We have invited the Prime Minister and the President to inaugurate this kidney shop. They should allow us to sell our kidneys. We are all ruined by debt. Many farmers are killing themselves. Our kidneys are all we have left to sell,” says Madhavgir Champat Giri, who sold all his land to pay his bank loan. Read more