Patna: A young businessman in Bihar facing financial crunch has allegedly committed suicide by consuming sulpha tablets in another incident of businessmen, traders and others ending their lives in the state due to the loss of livelihood post- COVID-19 lockdown.
Rohit Santhlaia, in his early 30s, a resident of Sujaganj, in Bhagalpur town, allegedly ended his life after suffering a heavy loss in his readymade garments business during the lockdown. He was under tremendous pressure to revive his business and pay back debt.
The father of two minor daughters was always cheerful and happy until the lockdown ruined his business. Santhlaia’s Shivani told the police that he committed suicide due to repeated losses in his business. “In the last two years, his business was badly affected. Unable to cope with the financial crunch, he slipped into depression and was always worried about managing the family,” she said.
Shivani said that Santhlaia complained of uneasiness, vomited and fell unconscious after returning from the market on Sunday afternoon. “There was a strong smell of some poisonous substance from his vomit. We rushed him to a private hospital but his condition further deteriorated on Monday morning. Subsequently, he was rushed to a reputed government hospital where doctors declared him dead.” Santhlaia’s cousin Nitesh said that he committed suicide due to the heavy loss in his business. “He took the extreme step to end his life.”
According to reports, at least, five persons have committed suicide in Bhagalpur in the last 11 months due to their dire financial straits. In early January, unable to bear the strain of a loan taken from a private bank, Chandra Bhushan Singh, a popular chemistry teacher, allegedly committed suicide after his coaching institute remained shut for nine months during the lockdown.
Bank officials were allegedly harassing Singh and had served him a notice to repay the loan without delay, according to reports. Popularly known as ‘CB Sir’ among colleagues and students in the silk city, Singh was finding it difficult to manage and took the extreme step.
“The livelihood of thousands of people was hit last year and this year due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Hundreds of businessmen and traders faced heavy losses with some of them becoming depressed and tensed,” Dr Sambey, a social activist in Bhagalpur, told Newsclick.
In March, a family of five members—a couple, their two daughters and son—allegedly committed suicide by hanging themselves in their house in a village in Supaul district. It is probably the first case in rural Bihar where an entire family committed suicide due to financial difficulties. Mishri Lal Shah, 52, and his family ended their lives after he suffered a loss in his business following the lockdown. Fellow villagers, including neighbours, told the police that Shah was debt-ridden and in trouble after being unable to repay a money-lender.
After last year’s sudden lockdown, millions of skilled and unskilled workers, drivers and vendors lost their livelihood, as per official figures. In Bihar, joblessness after the first lockdown was a major challenge with more than 21 lakh migrant workers returning to the state. This year’s lockdown resulted in further loss of livelihood for thousands.
According to the latest NITI Aayog Multidimensional Poverty Index, about 51.9 % of the state’s population is poor. The index, based on the National Family Health Family Survey 2015-16 (NFHS-4) data and preliminary findings of the NFHS-5, showed that Bihar has the highest number of malnourished people.