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Archive for the ‘MAHARASHTRA’ Category

Of luxury cars and lowly tractors

Posted by ajadhind on December 29, 2010

P. Sainath
Even as the media celebrate the Mercedes Benz deal in the Marathwada region as a sign of “rural resurgence,” the latest data show that 17,368 farmers killed themselves in the year of the “resurgence.”
When businessmen from Aurangabad in the backward Marathwada region bought 150 Mercedes Benz luxury cars worth Rs. 65 crore at one go in October, it grabbed media attention. The top public sector bank, State Bank of India, offered the buyers loans of over Rs. 40 crore. “This,” says Devidas Tulzapurkar, president of the Aurangabad district bank employees association, “at an interest rate of 7 per cent.” A top SBI official said the bank was “proud to be part of this deal,” and would “continue to scout for similar deals in the future.”
The value of the Mercedes deal equals the annual income of tens of thousands of rural Marathwada households. And countless farmers in Maharashtra struggle to get any loans from formal sources of credit. It took roughly a decade and tens of thousands of suicides before Indian farmers got loans at 7 per cent interest — many, in theory only. Prior to 2005, those who got any bank loans at all shelled out between 9 and 12 per cent. Several were forced to take non-agricultural loans at even higher rates of interest. Buy a Mercedes, pay 7 per cent interest. Buy a tractor, pay 12 per cent. The hallowed micro-finance institutions (MFIs) do worse. There, it’s smaller sums at interest rates of between 24 and 36 per cent or higher.
Starved of credit, peasants turned to moneylenders and other informal sources. Within 10 years from 1991, the number of Indian farm households in debt almost doubled from 26 per cent to 48.6 per cent. A crazy underestimate but an official number. Many policy-driven disasters hit farmers at the same time. Exploding input costs in the name of ‘market-based prices.’ Crashing prices for their commercial crops, often rigged by powerful traders and corporations. Slashing of investment in agriculture. A credit squeeze as banks moved away from farm loans to fuelling upper middle class lifestyles. Within the many factors driving over two lakh farmers to suicide in 13 years, indebtedness and the credit squeeze rank high. (And MFIs are now among the squeezers).
What remained of farm credit was hijacked. A devastating piece in The Hindu (Aug. 13) showed us how. Almost half the total “agricultural credit” in the State of Maharashtra in 2008 was disbursed not by rural banks but by urban and metro branches. Over 42 per cent of it in just Mumbai — stomping ground of large corporations rather than of small farmers.
Even as the media celebrate our greatest car deal ever as a sign of “rural resurgence,” the subject of many media stories, comes the latest data of the National Crime Records Bureau. These show a sharp increase in farm suicides in 2009 with at least 17,368 farmers killing themselves in the year of “rural resurgence.” That’s over 7 per cent higher than in 2008 and the worst numbers since 2004. This brings the total farm suicides since 1997 to 216,500. While all suicides have multiple causes, their strong concentration within regions and among cash crop farmers is an alarming and dismal trend.
The NCRB, a wing of the Union Home Ministry, has been tracking farm suicide data since 1995. However, researchers mostly use their data from 1997 onwards. This is because the 1995 and 1996 data are incomplete. The system was new in 1995 and some big States such as Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan sent in no numbers at all that year. (In 2009, the two together saw over 1,900 farm suicides). By 1997, all States were reporting and the data are more complete.
The NCRB data end at 2009 for now. But we can assume that 2010 has seen at least 16,000 farmers’ suicides. (After all, the yearly average for the last six years is 17,104). Add this 16,000 to the total 2,16,500. Also add the incomplete 1995 and 1996 numbers — that is 24,449 suicides. This brings the 1995-2010 total to 2,56,949. Reflect on this figure a moment.
It means over a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995. It means the largest wave of recorded suicides in human history has occurred in this country in the past 16 years. It means one-and-a-half million human beings, family members of those killing themselves, have been tormented by the tragedy. While millions more face the very problems that drove so many to suicide. It means farmers in thousands of villages have seen their neighbours take this incredibly sad way out. A way out that more and more will consider as despair grows and policies don’t change. It means the heartlessness of the Indian elite is impossible to imagine, leave alone measure.
Note that these numbers are gross underestimates to begin with. Several large groups of farmers are mostly excluded from local counts. Women, for instance. Social and other prejudice means that, most times, a woman farmer killing herself is counted as suicide — not as a farmer’s suicide. Because the land is rarely in a woman’s name.
Then there is the plain fraud that some governments resort to. Maharashtra being the classic example. The government here has lied so many times that it contradicts itself thrice within a week. In May this year, for instance, three ‘official’ estimates of farm suicides in the worst-hit Vidarbha region varied by 5,500 per cent. The lowest count being just six in four months (See “How to be an eligible suicide,” The Hindu, May 13, 2010).
The NCRB figure for Maharashtra as a whole in 2009 is 2,872 farmers’ suicides. So it remains the worst State for farm suicides for the tenth year running. The ‘decline’ of 930 that this figure represents would be joyous if true. But no State has worked harder to falsify reality. For 13 years, the State has seen a nearly unrelenting rise. Suddenly, there’s a drop of 436 and 930 in 2008 and 2009. How? For almost four years now, committees have functioned in Vidarbha’s crisis districts to dismiss most suicides as ‘non-genuine.’ What is truly frightening is the Maharashtra government’s notion that fixing the numbers fixes the problem.
Yet that problem is mounting. Perhaps the State most comparable to Maharashtra in terms of population is West Bengal. Though its population is less by a few million, it has more farmers. Both States have data for 15 years since 1995. Their farm suicide annual averages in three-five year periods starting then are revealing. Maharashtra’s annual average goes up in each period. From 1,963 in the five years ending with 1999 to 3,647 by 2004. And scaling 3,858 by 2009. West Bengal’s yearly average registers a gradual drop in each five-year period. From 1,454 in 1999 to 1,200 in 2004 to 1,014 by 2009. While it has more farmers, its farm suicide average for the past five years is less than a third of Maharashtra’s. The latter’s yearly average has almost doubled since 1999.
The share of the Big 5 ‘suicide belt’ States — Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — remains close to two-thirds of all farm suicides. Sadly 18 of 28 States reported higher farm suicide numbers in 2009. In some the rise was negligible. In others, not. Tamil Nadu showed the biggest increase of all States, going from 512 in 2008 to 1060 in 2009. Karnataka clocked in second with a rise of 545. And Andhra Pradesh saw the third biggest rise — 309 more than in 2008. A few though did see a decline of some consequence in their farm suicide annual average figures for the last six years. Three — Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal — saw their yearly average fall by over 350 in 2004-09 compared to the earlier seven years.
Things will get worse if existing policies on agriculture don’t change. Even States that have managed some decline across 13 years will be battered. Kerala, for instance, saw an annual average of 1,371 farm suicides between 1997 and 2003. From 2004-09, its annual average was 1016 — a drop of 355. Yet Kerala will suffer greatly in the near future. Its economy is the most globalised of any State. Most crops are cash crops. Any volatility in the global prices of coffee, pepper, tea, vanilla, cardamom or rubber will affect the State. Those prices are also hugely controlled at the global level by a few corporations.
Already bludgeoned by the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), Kerala now has to contend with the one we’ve gotten into with ASEAN. And an FTA with the European Union is also in the offing. Kerala will pay the price. Even prior to 2004, the dumping of the so-called “Sri Lankan pepper” (mostly pepper from other countries brought in through Sri Lanka) ravaged the State. Now, we’ve created institutional frameworks for such dumping. Economist Professor K. Nagaraj, author of the biggest study of farm suicides in India, says: “The latest data show us that the agrarian crisis has not relented, not gone away.” The policies driving it have also not gone away.


17,368 farm suicides in 2009

Posted by ajadhind on December 29, 2010

source – hindu

MUMBAI: At least 17,368 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009, the worst figure for farm suicides in six years, according to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This is an increase of 1,172 over the 2008 count of 16,196. It brings the total farm suicides since 1997 to 2,16,500. The share of the Big 5 States, or ‘suicide belt’ — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — in 2009 remained very high at 10,765, or around 62 per cent of the total, though falling nearly five percentage points from 2008. Maharashtra remained the worst State for farm suicides for the tenth successive year, reporting 2,872. Though that is a fall of 930, it is still 590 more than in Karnataka, second worst, which logged 2,282 farm suicides.
Economist K. Nagaraj, author of the biggest study on Indian farm suicides, says, “That these numbers are rising even as the farmer population shrinks, confirms the agrarian crisis is still burning.”
Maharashtra has logged 44,276 farm suicides since 1997, over a fifth of the total 2,16,500. Within the Big 5, Karnataka saw the highest increase of 545 in 2009. Andhra Pradesh recorded 2,414 farm suicides — 309 more than in 2008. Madhya Pradesh (1,395) and Chhattisgarh (1,802) saw smaller increases of 16 and 29. Outside the Big 5, Tamil Nadu doubled its tally with 1,060, against 512 in 2008. In all, 18 of 28 States reported higher farm suicide numbers in 2009. Some, like Jammu and Kashmir or Uttarakhand, saw a negligible rise. Rajasthan, Kerala and Jharkhand saw increases of 55, 76 and 93. Assam and West Bengal saw higher rises of 144 and 295. NCRB farm data now exist for 13 years. In the first seven, 1997-2003, there were 1,13,872 farm suicides, an average of 16,267 a year. In the next six years 1,02,628 farmers took their lives at an average of 17,105 a year. This means, on average, around 47 farmers — or almost one every 30 minutes — killed themselves each day between 2004 and 2009.
Lower their average
Among the major States, only a few including Karnataka, Kerala and West Bengal avoided the sharp rise these six years and lowered their average by over 350 compared to the 1997-2003 period. In the same period, the annual average of farm suicides in the Big 5 States as a whole was more than 1,650 higher than it was in 1997-2003.


Gadchiroli: 6 cops injured as Naxals blast anti-landmine vehicle

Posted by ajadhind on October 6, 2010

source – rediff

Six policemen were on Tuesday injured when Naxals blew up an anti-landmine vehicle and opened indiscriminate fire on them in Perimili area of Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra

The incident occurred around 8:30-9:00 am in Aheri taluka of the district, when the police party was on its way to recover the bodies of four security men, including a CRPF inspector, who were killed in a landmine blast on Monday in the same area.

The Naxals opened fire on the police party, drawing immediate retaliation, leaving six policemen injured. The injured policemen were identified as Ramesh Dalai, Umesh Korame, Imran Sheikh, Suresh Bhalame, Sagar Malgune and S Rohankar.

Korame and Rohankar were brought to Gadchiroli district headquarters for treatment while the remaining were being treated at Aheri, police said.

Four securitymen– CRPF inspector Nivrati Jadhav, two Police Sub Inspectors Shashikant More and Malgune along with a constable Anand Gajaje (Patil)– were killed on Monday after Naxals triggered a landmine blast when they had gone to the weekly market to fetch vegetables in the Perimili area.

Three bodies barring that of Gajaje have been recovered and brought to the district headquarters, police added.

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Four securitymen killed as Naxals trigger blast in Gadchiroli

Posted by ajadhind on October 6, 2010

source rediff

Four securitymen, including two Central Reserve Police Force personnel, were killed when Naxalites triggered a powerful improvised explosive device blast in a marketplace in Perilimili village in the Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra when they were out shopping.


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The security personnel were shopping at a local market in the area when the explosion took place at around 4.30 pm, killing two CRPF men and two police officers on the spot.

The two CRPF men have been identified as Inspector Nauroti Yadav and constable Anand Kumar of the 9th battalion of the force, posted in the area for anti-Naxal operations.

Two sub-inspectors of Maharashtra Police — Shashi More and Mahendra Mangul — were also killed in the attack, police said, adding their vehicle was badly damaged in the explosion.

Senior officials said that a rescue team and additional reinforcements have been dispatched to the spot to trace the other policemen who were accompanying them and launch a combing operation to track down the Maoist rebels.

The area falls in Aheri taluka of the district, one of the worst-hit by left wing extremism in the state.

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Naxalites gun down 16 cops in Gadchiroli

Posted by ajadhind on May 28, 2009

Mumbai: Maoists struck in Gadchiroli district of the state on Thursday afternoon, killing 16 police personnel, including an inspector, a sub-inspector, and five women constables.This is the first time that women constables in Maharashtra have become victims of a naxal attack.

All the police personnel were posted at Dhanora police station. The incident took place at Hattitola between Erkad and Murumgaon on the busy state highway linking Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.According to sources, naxalites had called for a bandh (Strike) on Wednesday and Thursday.

The police party led by inspector Ashok Iyer was conducting foot patrolling around 3:30pm when it came across a roadblock. When the team began removing the trees lying across the road, more than 100 naxalites hiding in the forest along the road opened fire. They also blew up a police vehicle that was following the team.The roadblock was a trap for the team.

After the encounter the naxalites fled with the weapons belonging to the police party.Gadchiroli’s superintendent of police Rajesh Pradhan rushed to the spot with reinforcements, but it was too late. It is learnt that information about the ambush could not reach the headquarters at Gadchiroli as wireless sets were not functioning owing to heavy rainfall in the area.

The source said inspector Iyer was earlier posted with the Nagpur (rural) police and served as senior inspector at the Kalmeshwar and the Bhivapur police stations. He was transferred to Gadchiroli on request last year.The state government announced that combing operations would be stepped up in all the naxal-infested areas of Vidarbha. “We will intensify combing operations in the region,” home minister Jayant Patil told reporters. “The operations were in progress after a similar attack earlier this year claimed the lives of 15 policemen, but several security personnel were later deployed for election duty.”

Meanwhile, state director-general of police SS Virk said the inspector who led the 16-member team had not informed any senior officers before setting out and could have been lured into an ambush by the insurgents

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Posted by ajadhind on February 12, 2009

MAHARASTRA:A woman named Narmada led the deadly Maoist attack that killed 15 policemen in Maharashtra‘ s Gadchiroli district on Sunday. Her deputy was also a woman named Taraka alias Vimlaa. Narmada, a 44-year-old college dropout from Andhra Pradesh, has been leading the Maoists‘ Gadchiroli unit since shortly after the death of its last leader, Shivanna, who was killed in a police encounter in Chhattisgarh last year.

The sources said the attack in the jungles of Markegaon village about 300 km southeast of Nagpur was a joint operation of the North Bastar and Gadchiroli units of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). Narmada, a 44-year-old college dropout from Andhra Pradesh, has been leading the Maoists’ Gadchiroli unit since shortly after the death of its last leader, Shivanna, who was killed in a police encounter in Chhattisgarh last year. She is married to Maoist leader Sudhakar alias Kiran who works for the outfit’s publicity wing, say sources.

Her deputy Taraka, a tribal girl from Gadchiroli, is also the wife of a senior Maoist leader, Bhupathi. He is a member of the group’s central committee.Since she took charge, Narmada has entrusted key posts to women. Most of her local organisational squads, which consist of 10-15 armed Maoists, are headed by women.

The Maharashtra Police have launched a massive search to find the group. More than 2,000 heavily-armed police personnel have been deployed for combing operations in the area, which is 80 km by road from the district headquarter, Gadchiroli town. Seventy policemen have been killed by Maoists in Gadchiroli and Gondia districts of Vidharba since 2002, according to the Anti Naxal Operations unit of Maharashtra Police. Naxalites of the People’s War Group, and later, the CPI(Maoist) have been active in this area since 1980.Maharashtra Police chief AN Roy denied media reports that the bodies of the policemen who died in the attack had been mutilated. “This is absolutely false,” he said.Agencies investigating the attack say the Maoists used a police informer to draw the policemen to their deaths.

The attackers knew of the movements of the policemen, who were on their way to investigate the burning of a tractor and a road-roller by Maoists.

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Maoist rebels kill 15 police in India

Posted by ajadhind on February 7, 2009

Fifteen police officers were killed in the western
Indian state of Maharashtra
in a shoot-out with Maoist Revolutionaries on Monday, 2nd February 2009.

They were ambushed Sunday in the jungle near a village in the east of the state, a stronghold of Maoists and other Marxist groups who represent oppressed, landless rural dwellers.

“The patrolling party was ambushed by the Maoists and 15 reactionaries died. The encounter went on for nearly one and a half to two hours,” stated the regions Masses reports.

They say there were regular skirmishes between police and Maoists in
the area, which is close to the border with neighbouring Madhya Pradesh and some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) by road from the Maharahstra state capital Mumbai.

Indian media on Monday said the Maoists fled with police weapons,
including automatic assault rifles and a mortar shell.

The Maoist peoples war, which grew out of a peasant uprising in 1967, has hit more than half of India’s 29 states and the rebels use a heavily forested region in Chhattisgarh as their headquarters and base themselves and their social base on the masses.

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The cop who knew no fear

Posted by ajadhind on December 6, 2008

Mumbai: Catching alive a terrorist on a suicide mission is almost impossible. The Maharashtra Police have to thank Assistant Sub-Inspector Tukaram Gopal Omble, 48, for that.

Ajmal Ameer Kasab, the Pakistani-born terrorist, was arrested because Omble, a beat marshal in Girgaum Chowpatty, held onto the terrorist’s gun and let his body get riddled by the bullets.

When the two terrorists, Kasab and Abu Dera Ismail Khan, sped off in a Skoda Laura after abandoning the police vehicle they carjacked after killing senior police officers, the police team at Girgaum Chowpaty had got the message.

Assistant Police Inspector Hemant Bavdhankar of D B Nagar Police station said: “Moments later, we saw a car matching the description (in the message) slowing down at a distance of around 50 feet from us. As the vehicle tried to take a U-turn, it hit the divider.”

The terrorists turned on the lights full beam and the wipers, squirting water on the windshield to hide their faces. Told by police to step out with hands up, Kasab obeyed but hid his gun. When he started firing, Omble grabbed the barrel of the gun. Kasab kept firing and Omble took the bullets. He collapsed but did not let go of Kasab and the gun. That gave others in the team, who had already shot Khan, time to overpower Kasab.

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‘He had always wanted to die a hero’s death’

Posted by ajadhind on December 6, 2008


1972 – 2008
THE tiny village of Ganeshpur turned out in full strength to bid adieu to its hero, Havaldar Gajendra Singh Bisht (36), the National Security Guards (NSG) commando who died fighting terrorists in Mumbai.
Havaldar Gajendra’s mortal remains were consigned to the flames with full military honours on Saturday afternoon with more than a thousand people from Ganeshpur and its adjoining villages participating in the funeral.
“He had always wanted to be in the forces and had always wanted to die like a hero. And that is precisely what happened,” said his brother, Birender Singh Bisht, an official in the Uttarakhand Police. Amongst those present to pay their respects to the martyr was his teacher from Janata Inter College in Naya Gaon Subhash Chand Jasola. “He had studied in the college from 1980 to 1990. I cannot forget his interest in sports, particularly boxing. He was a disciplined student and participated in every event organised in the school, be it sports or cultural activities,” said Jasola, who teaches English at the college. He said that Havaldar Gajendra is the third student from the college to have died for the country in military operations. Earlier, two of his former students had died during the Kargil operations. Havaldar Gajendra had also participated in the Kargil operations.
The college was shut for the day in honour of Havaldar Gajendra’s sacrifice and the entire staff and students had turned up for his funeral.
“I met him last in August when our father Late Daulat Singh had died. Thereafter, we had been in touch on phone,” said his brother. He said Gajendra joined the Garhwal Rifles in 1991 and then chose to be part of the 10 Para (Special Force). Thereafter, he had opted to be a NSG commando. He was based in Delhi when he was asked to be part of Mumbai operation.
“After having dinner on November 26, he got a call from his office saying that an alert has been sounded. He had left the house carrying bare essentials, telling me that he would be back in a while. It was a couple of hours later that we were told that he had been sent to Mumbai,” said his wife Vineeta Devi (31). She said her husband wanted their daughter Preeti (10) to be an air hostess and son Gaurav (12) to be an Army officer. “I wonder where we are faltering in dealing with terrorism. We have the best of forces and technology. We need to ponder why innocents are losing their lives while those compromising with their duties are making millions,” said the deceased’s maternal uncle Dr Hoshiar Singh Negi.
Uttarakhand Governor B.L. Joshi, Chief Minister B.C. Khanduri and IMA Commandant Lt Gen R.S. Sujlana paid a visit to Havaldar Gajendra’s house to offer their condolences to his family.
In his address, Joshi said, “As the Governor of the state, I am proud of the supreme sacrifice made by Havaldar Gajendra. At the same time, I am also very sad at his untimely death. The whole nation is with his family at this hour of grief.” Khanduri announced an immediate aid of Rs 5 lakh to the family of Havaldar Ganjendra.
_Rajeev Khanna, Dehradun, November 29

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Karkare: An officer and a gentleman

Posted by ajadhind on November 29, 2008

Hemant Karkare, Chief, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad

Hemant Karkare, Chief, Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad

When Mumbai’s former police commissioner Julio Rebeiro hailed Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant Karkare as one of the finest officers in the country, he was not exaggerating.

A 1982 batch IPS officer, Karkare was a Bachelor of Engineering from Vishveshvarayya Regional Engineering College in Nagpur. He worked for the National Productivity Council and Hindustan Lever before leaving the high-paying jobs for the glamour of the uniform. Hindustan Lever’s loss was the country’s gain as Karkare showed bright sparks in the very first year of his training – topping the batch in 1983.

Karkare’s first assignment was in Bhusawal as assistant superintendent of police in 1984. He was then posted as additional superintendent of police in Nanded 1986. His next posting came in 1987 in Thane. It is this posting that explains why the Shiv Sena targeted Karkare when terror suspect Pragya Singh Thakur was arrested.

In 1998, Karkare took the bold step of arresting Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe from Thane. The Shiv Sena was trying to foment communal tensions at Haji Malang in Kalyan, where both Hindus and Muslims went to pray. Dighe was to Thane what Bal Thackeray is to Mumbai, and his arrest frustrated the terror tactics of Shiv Sena.

Karkare took over the investigation of the multi-crore shoe scandal and was also in charge of the narcotics division in Mumbai. He was one of the few Maharashtra cadre IPS officers who remained untouched by corruption scandals and controversies during the Telgi case. That could have helped him get a prestigious posting in the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). Karkare was posted in Austria for almost seven years in his nine years with RAW. She became the head of ATS in January this year after his return to the state cadre.

Karkare solved the serial bomb blasts in Thane, Vashi and Panvel. He also handled the July 2006 Mumbai local train blasts case. Most recently, he was credited for the stunning revelations in the investigation of the September 29 Malegaon blast. During his posting as superintendent of police in Vidarbha’s Chandrapur district, people saw a different side of his personality. He created 150 beautiful wood sculptures in the forested area.

Only a few days ago, his batch-mate and one of his close friends, joint commissioner of police K.L. Prasad described him as an “officer who always took a principled stand whatever the consequences”. ATS officials fear that his death will clearly derail investigations, as he was the only one who calmly took all the pressure and let his men do the job.

Courtesy: Krishna Kumar / Mail Today

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