The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday sought a report from the Maharashtra government on the spate of farmers suicides within six weeks, terming it as "a serious issue", an activist said here.
The Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishor Tiwari said that the NHRC's suo moto cognizance has been prompted by media reports of seven farmers committing suicide within 72 hours last week in the state's Vidarbha region.
"Taking serious note of this, the NHRC has asked the state chief secretary to submit its report (to NHRC) within six weeks since the media reports raised a serious issue of violation of farmers' rights," Tiwari told IANS.
He added that Dnyaneshwar Thakray, Pramod Mamankar, Kanikrao Kukade, Vitthal Bhogre, Shyam Sahare, Daulat Kukde, Chakradhar Choudhary were the farmers who had committed suicide within 72 hours.
The VJAS, which has been documenting farmland suicides since over a decade, said that 528 farmers have ended their lives in the region in the first eight months of 2012.
The reasons were damage to cash crops like soya, paddy and cotton because of heavy rains in the area, Tiwari said.
Citing official records, Tiwari said that more than 9,000 dry land farmers resorted to the extreme step owing to crop failure and economic losses since 2005.
He alleged that local politicians and official painted a 'rosy picture' to the higher officials and even kept Maharashtra Chief Minister (Prithviraj Chavan) in the dark about the actual ground conditions in the suicide-prone regions.
"Over three million farmers, widows and orphans have been denied food security, health services and other sources of livelihood, forcing them to end their lives," Tiwari pointed out.