OSMANABAD/NAGPUR: A 40-year-old woman farmer in Maharashtra’s drought-hit Marathwada region, with nothing to eat, no work to do and faced with the reality of feeding five children, has committed suicide.
Manisha Gatkal, a farmer in Marathwada’s Osmanabad district, doused herself with kerosene and set herself ablaze last Saturday, the very day India was celebrating Raksha Bandhan.
At Ms Gatkal’s home in Ambi village, there’s no rice, no flour, no oil, just empty vessels and absolutely nothing to eat. What’s worse, there’s no source of livelihood.
“We are really very poor. There was no food. I had no work… When I got some work I went out. She latched the door and killed herself,” said Ms Gatkal’s husband Laxman.
Manisha Gatkal poured kerosene on her and set herself ablaze while her husband was away
The family is so poor that unlike other farmer suicide deaths in Marathwada, they couldn’t even take a loan.
“Ration is just too little – 18 kg of wheat and 12 kg of rice. That’s not enough for seven people. Just lasts 12 days,” said Sambhaji, a relative of Gatkals.
Almost in no man’s land, on the borders of two districts, Osmanabad and Solapur, villagers claim the situation is acute as there’s just no work even under employment guarantee schemes.
“Had he got work under NREGA, they would have had money and she wouldn’t have committed suicide,” said Laxman Gatkal’s brother Balasahab.
Marathwada has seen back to back droughts over the last three years and has so far reported the country’s highest rainfall deficit in the current monsoon season. 2014 recorded 574 farmer suicides in the region; in 2015, 628 farmers have already killed themselves.