Family that lost father, son is tip of suicide iceberg

Family that lost father, son is tip of suicide iceberg

There is no earning man in the Dhanke family of Sindhfal village in Osmanabad district's Tulzapur taluka: Mounting loans have forced the father and his son to end their lives five years apart.

This is just one of the many such examples that point to a bigger agrarian-distress gripping Maharashtra's Marathwada region, where three of the eight districts — Osmanabad, Beed and Latur — are experiencing severe drought and scarcity-like conditions.

In Sindhfal, 42-year-old Bhairu Dhanke committed suicide on September 4 by hanging himself from a tree in his farm outside the village, leaving behind his wife Vimalbai (35), daughter Payal (12) and six-year-old son Soham, besides his mother Satyabama, in her 60s. The family owns an agriculture field spread over 6 acres, on which soya bean and maize are generally cultivated.

The family’s problems started when Appasaheb Dhanke ended his life by consuming poison around five years ago. “I do now know how to manage all this now. We are clueless and no help whatsoever has come from the government,” Vimalbai told Deccan Herald at her home in the village.

As of now, the loan burden on the family is around Rs 20,000, taken from the Osmanabad District Central Cooperative Bank, nearly Rs 2 lakh borrowed from friends and moneylenders, around Rs 42,000 taken by pledging a life insurance policy and outstanding electricity bills of nearly Rs 17,000.

“The government says suicides are rising because of alcoholism, but Bhairu (Appasaheb's son) never consumed alcohol,” said Sheela Umbare Pendharkar, the founder-chairperson of Save Farmers' Widows-Osmanabad.

“The crisis is big. There have been three suicides in the Sindhfal village itself, including that of 25-year-old Ramesh Male,” she said.

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