PUNE: Two-and-half years old Amol Patil was tired, but at the same time, awestruck by the massive turnout he was seeing around him. The boy, from a small village from Kolhapur district, was part of the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi procession that entered Pune city on Wednesday.
The little boy’s parents, who were farmers, committed suicide recently, unable to pay the loan they had taken for their farmland.
Amol was the youngest among the 50 children from Nashik-based Adharteerth Ashram who participated in the procession. The ashram houses 363 children from farming families where one or both parents have committed suicide because of debt. The 50 children who started from Alandi on Tuesday and will go till Saswad, are participating in this procession to draw the attention of the State Government to farmers’ woes and how suicide is ruining families, specially children.
Trimbakeshwar Gaikwad from the Adharteerth Ashram, who is also travelling with them, said there are 25 girls from the ashram who are a part of the procession this year.
Nikita Kharat, an 8-year-old from a village from Jalna district lost her parents when she was just four. They were unable to repay the loan taken for their three-acre grape cultivation, and took the extreme step. Kiran Borse, a 10-year-old, was sent to this ashram by his neighbours when his parents, sugarcane farmers , decided to commit suicide.
The children were playing cymbals and the chorus of their chants attracted the attention of all.
“The Ashram looks after their education and upbringing, without any support. We want the government to take notice of this problem (farmers’ suicides), and act on it urgently,” he said. This is the 8th year that the ashram is participating in this palkhi.