MUMBAI: A debt-ridden farmer hung himself from a tree in Maharashtra's Solapur district 400 km from Mumbai, where Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a loan waiver last week in an attempt to end the ongoing farmers' agitation.
But Dhanaji Chandrakant Jadhav, 45, made sure he wasn't going to be just another figure in a state where 11 farmers commit suicide every day. In a note that the police say he left behind, Jadhav said he should not be cremated "till Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis comes here".
Jadhav had just 2.5 acres of cultivable land and a debt of over 60,000 rupees from banks and money lenders that he felt he couldn't repay. He leaves behind two young children and wife.
Solapur Collector Rajendra Bhosale confirmed to news agency Press Trust of India about Jadhav's instructions and said he was rushing to the village. So are police reinforcements. Vijay Deshmukh, the state minister in-charge of Solapur district, has visited the state earlier in the day.
As word about the suicide got around, farmer organisations blocked the main road and called for a bandh in the Karmala tehsil, triggering worries within the state administration that the farmer protests could spread.
The suicide could further fuel the farmer protests in the state that have continued despite Mr Fadnavis announcement to waive loans held by defaulting farmers with small tracts of land and low incomes.
Mr Fadnavis tried to buy peace last week with a loan waiver for marginal or poor farmers who defaulted on repayments. But it hasn't convinced the farmers yet; the farmers say they will continue the strike until the waiver was extended to debt of all farmers and not just marginal, or poorer, farmers who defaulted.
They also want the government to take firm steps to boost farm incomes and cut supplies of vegetables and milk to Mumbai and Pune to get their point across.
Maharashtra, the country's second-biggest producer of sugar, cotton and soybean, has the maximum number of farmer suicides in the country. In 2015, the last year for which national data is available, 4,291 farmers killed themselves as compared to 4,004 in 2014. Most of these suicides were linked to bankruptcy.