Nagpur: Five debt-trapped farmers in Maharashtra's Vidarbha area committed suicide even as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was visiting Akola in the region, a farmer watchdog group said on Wednesday.
The suicides on Tuesday came on the eve of the main festival of the farming community, Pola, and three days before the 10-day Ganapati festival, said Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti chief Kishor Tiwari.
'The shocking aspect is that one of the farmers, Hanuman Choudhari, who committed suicide, was from the village Waipad in Wardha district from where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had announced a Rs.3,750 crore relief package on July 1, 2006,' Tiwari said.
Waipad village is also the place where eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan had set up a village agri-science centre to teach farmers modern farming techniques and sustainable farming methods, Tiwari said.
The others who ended their lives Tuesday were: Mahadeo Wahane of Mendhepathar in Akola district, Dilip Rajurkar of Sawargaon, Vijay Panre of Pisgaon, and a woman, Gangubai Ganpade, of Sagnapur (all in Yavatmal district). This takes the number of suicides in Vidarbha to 572 this year, he added.
According to Tiwari, this year Pola is being 'observed' more than celebrated in view of the continuing suicides on farmlands, and the record heavy rains which have wiped out standing crops and led to spiralling cultivation costs.
Rahul Gandhi visited Akola, Aurangabad and Pune during a whirlwind visit of the state on Tuesday.