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“Hitler used it in gas chambers; We’re using it in the open fields”

From The Citizen: “Hitler used organophosphate gases to execute thousands in his gas chambers, we are now using the same to kill our farmers in the open fields,” said Kishor Tiwari on the recent deaths of more than 40 farmers from pesticide poisoning in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal. Tiwari heads a government task force for farmers’ welfare.

The Citizen

VIDARBHA: “Hitler used these organophosphate gases to execute thousands in his gas chambers, we are now using the same to kill our farmers in the open fields,” said farmer activist Kishor Tiwari. He was speaking to The CItizen from Vidarbha where he was visiting the families of at least 40 farmers who have recently died after using the deadly pesticides supplied by MNC’s. At least 2000 are suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning that is said to be deeply painful.

Tiwari has been asked by a panicky Maharashtra government to head its task force, the Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swawlamban Mission, to looking into what he referred to as a “genocide” committed by the state on the farmers.

He sent photographs shortly after the interview of the grieving widow and family of a farmer, otherwise sound and healthy, who died because of the pesticides. Tiwari was visiting the family as part of the probe.

Tiwari said that a pesticide banned across the world was being supplied to the Indian farmers. There is no known antidote for it, he said, and that is why probably it was made available for Indian farmers. He scoffed at the regulatory agencies claim that farmers had been advised to wear protective gear like masks, pointing out, “do they really expect our farmers to use all this, they have no money, they are committing suicide because of debt, and now you are giving them poison to inject into their crops.”

SIGN PETITION: Stop The Pesticide Massacre

At least 40 farmers died with nerve gas poisoning, collapsing almost immediately, after spraying the pesticides and inhaling the poisonous gases. The same kind of pesticide chemicals were used by German fascist dictator Adolf Hitler to gas the Jews in his horrific chambers, Tiwari insisted. The difference is that we are gassing our farmers in the open fields, he added.

Tiwari was scathing in his criticism of the government for supplying lethal pesticides to its farmers.He insisted that the government should move to organic, non chemical pesticides to prevent such tragedies. How can the poor farmer, struggling to survive, even be expected to follow some guidelines that have probably never even be communicated to him, Tiwari asked.

In Bihar 25 school children died because of an overdose of the same organophosphate based pesticides in the food they consumed in 2013. These pesticides were developed in Germany in the 1940’s and continue to be used extensively against agricultural pests, although governments in the west have banned these. Scientists pointed out at the time of the Bihar tragedy, that these are junior-strength nerve agents and have the same mechanism of action such as nerve gases like sarin. A serious downside, however, is that they also happen to be extremely toxic.

At least 23 school children, aged four to 12, died and many more fell seriously ill after eating a mid day meal of rice, soybeans, and lentils in Mashrakh, a village in Bihar. The deaths were swift, and very painful suggesting a high dose of the lethal pesticide in the food.

The same kind of painful death visited the farmers in Maharashtra. The US has guidelines in place to ensure that the amounts of organophosphates do not reach dangerous levels, which is clearly impossible in India where regulation has little or no meaning in the field.

In Vidarbha several incidents of pesticide poisoning have been reported. Sources said that at least two more inquiries have been held in the past, although details of these are not known. Vidarbha has also registered a high degree of agrarian distress recording a large number of suicides because of crop failure, and debts. Growing unrest in the region, and across the state, has now led Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to state that a culpable homicide case has been registered against the local company selling the pesticide, ironically called, Police.

40 farmers dead, 2000 hospitalised: Task force chief calls it ‘pesticide genocide’
Vivek Deshpande, The Indian Express
From The Indian Express: According to Kishor Tiwari, chief of a Maharashtra government task force for the welfare of farmers, more than 40 farmers had died and at least 2,000 more hospitalised from pesticide inhalation in Vidarbha and Marathwada. He has termed the deaths of farmers from pesticide inhalation as “genocide committed by the state”. (Also read: The Fatal Chain: Failure of Bt Cotton, increased sprays, poisoning deaths)

MNCs Syngenta, Bayer, Monsanto blamed for farmers deaths in Maharashtra
Financial Express
The special task force in Maharashtra to tackle agrarian crisis Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavlamban Mission (VNSSM) chairman Kishor Tiwari on Monday blamed the Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta, Germany’s Bayer and Bayer-owned Monsanto for recent deaths of farmers due to pesticide exposure to the cotton belt of Yavatmal. In a statement issued here, he said that they have been accused of distributing dangerous pesticides without sufficient safety information and violating guidelines and conditions by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIBRC), government of India, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Code of Conduct on Pesticide Management.

The Fatal Chain: Failure of Bt Cotton, increased sprays, poisoning deaths
Kartik Lokhande, The Hitavada
Root cause is not easily visible to the public eye, as the debate centres around immediate reasons only. As one goes deeper into the causes of pesticide poisoning deaths in Yavatmal district, one realises that the root cause is in failure of Bt Cotton leading to increased number of pesticide sprays. As far as farmers are concerned, Parshuram Ghagi, nephew of Diwakar Ghagi who had died of pesticide poisoning in village Ghoddara in Maregaon tehsil, gives a representative comment. A farmer himself, he puts it bluntly — Bt Cotton resistance claims have proven hollow.

The terrible truth behind the wave of farmer suicides in India
Nikita Sattiraju, Your Story
Farmer suicides in India have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. However, farmers have been taking the drastic step regardless of a good rainfall year or bad, a good price year or a disappointing one. Why? Questions arise on the exact nature and reasons behind the deepening problem

How World Bank’s economic chakravyuh is trapping Indian farmers
From GGI News
In 1996, the World Bank directed India to move 400 million people out of agriculture. Former PM Manmohan Singh had repeatedly expressed the need to shift 70% farmers. Only then will cheap labour be available for infrastructure development. The economic design is well laid out. Agriculture is being killed for economic growth.


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