Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan has announced that he will pay off crippling debts for 850 farmers in his home state, throwing his support behind agrarian workers who have been demanding more government support.
Mr Bachchan, 76, said he also previously helped more than 350 farmers in the western state Maharashtra, whose capital is Mumbai, by paying off their loans.
“It has been a most satisfying experience to give some to them our countrymen that sacrificed their lives for us”, he wrote on his personal blog.
“More needs to be done from other parts of the country too. It shall be done.”
Indian farmers have faced a turbulent year with soaring fuel costs, monsoon-damaged crops and empty promises of government minimum-price support causing tens of thousands of them to take out exorbitant loans from moneylenders or microfinance banks to make up shortfalls.
Mr Bachchan said: “Over 350 farmers loans that were difficult to pay off , and to prevent them from committing suicide, was paid off some days back too.
“Now a list of over 850 farmers from Uttar Pradesh have been identified and their loans amounting to over Rs 550m (611,000) shall be taken care of.”
The agricultural crisis has seen tens of thousands of farmers fatally despairing, accounting for 11 per cent of suicides in India. The latest available data for 2016 showed 11,370 took their lives that year.
Estimates suggest 300,000 have killed themselves in the past 10 years, though there is no consensus on the exact reason.
There have been several demonstrations this year by farmers – thousands marched on Delhi two weeks ago, only to be met with police using teargas and water cannon.