What is the dowry scene among Maharashtrians

The scandal
by Yavatmal

Bandu Sonule screamed. He twitched and thrashed. So hard that his hands and feet were tied to the hospital bed. He no longer recognized his wife Geeta, he was mad. Then he passed out, came to, passed out again. Geeta had pawned her gold chain to get some money, had dragged her husband onto a bus to take him from the village of Manoli to the hospital in the town of Yavatmal, two hours away. Now she was sitting helplessly on his hospital bed. “I prayed that he would get through,” says the 35-year-old woman with a tired, empty look. "We ran out of money to pay for any further treatment."

But Geeta's husband did not get through. Bandu Chandrabhan Sonule was pronounced dead at Government Medical College & Hospital in Yavatmal on Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 1:35 p.m. The autopsy report says: "The post-mortem findings are consistent with death from poisoning."

The 42-year-old father of two had inhaled so much poison while applying pesticides on a cotton field that he could no longer be saved. Geeta's brother rented a car to bring her late husband's body back to the village.

The widow received compensation from the government. But she doesn't know how she can get the family through in the future without the help of her husband, who earned around four Swiss francs a day as a sprayer. She also works in cotton fields. When we visit her in July, the only reason she has time to talk to us is because it has been raining continuously for days. Otherwise she would bend over young cotton plants in a field to remove weeds with a sickle. But for this she only receives one franc fifty per day. Since the death of her father, the 16-year-old daughter Puga and her three years older brother Saurabh have been going into the fields - to weed, sow or spread fertilizer.

Bandu Sonule is one of over fifty men who were fatally poisoned while applying pesticides between July and October last year in Vidarbha, a region in eastern Maharashtra state. In one district of Vidarbhas alone, Yavatmal, over twenty were killed. A total of 800 farmers or farm workers * in Yavatmal were hospitalized for acute poisoning after spraying pesticides. Several hundred of them became temporarily blind. And that within a few weeks.

*Since practically only men apply pesticides in the region, we use the masculine form of “farmers” and “farm workers” in this article.