MAURANIPUR: The ear-piercing sound of a train zooming past in front of her hut does little to disturb Shanti. As her three children -- Manish, Aneesh and daughter Laali – try to playfully reignite a fire by blowing air into what appears to be a dying fire -- Shanti encourages them to light the fire once again. But finally, it dies.
For the 25-year-old, the trains which keep zooming past round-the-clock, is a grim reminder of a tragedy which has shattered her life. This family is on the brink of starvation. Her husband Babloo Kushwaha, a farmer, ended his life -- he walked straight into an oncoming train -- just two months ago. Shanti, joined by other villagers, collected the remains of his mutilated body parts which had strewn around.
Now, two months later, she is being hounded by the same ‘’sahukars’’ from whom Babloo had taken a loan of Rs 4 lakh, in instalments -- the very reason why Babloo had abruptly ended his life which sent shockwaves in Mailoni village where they stay. Hit by severe drought and unseasonal rainfall, Babloo had invested heavily in the recent crop hoping he would make enough money in the second yield.
One fine evening, Babloo, unable to take any more, walked into an oncoming passenger train while his wife had gone to a nearby shop. But it is not Babloo alone who met such an agonizing end. Stories of farmers ending their lives due to poor crop yields are all over Bundelkhand region and the numerous packages announced by the central and state governments clearly has done nothing to bring a slight change in the lives of these families.
While there are no definite number of suicides in the region, local kisan leaders put it to several thousands ever since drought hit the region since 2003.
‘’Several hundreds of farmers have ended their lives in Bundelkhand region in the last few years but the government does not even admit that these suicides are due to poor yield and droughts. They say that it is due to other reasons. The facts are on the ground and it speaks for itself. When will the government wake up ? Bundelkhand is dying,’’ says Shiv Narayan Singh Parihar, leader of Bharatiya Kisan Union, who has tirelessly worked for the welfare of farmers in Bundelkhand region. Less than 150 kms from Mauranipur is Banda district, another drought-prone area, which faces severe water scarcity. Last year, a small time farmer Ram, ended his life, unable to pay loans taken by him for crops.
A senior IAS officer, who is also a District Magistrate, told Express, on condition of anonymity that though government will never admit it is a fact that the situation is very serious. ‘’Has any government ever admitted that farmers are ending lives due to these reasons ? They never will,” the oficer said.