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Bihar: 5 Members of Nawada Family Die by Suicide After ‘Harassment’ by Moneylenders

Kedar Lal Gupta, a fruit trader, was said to be facing a business slump after demonetisation and pandemic, and was heavily debt-ridden.
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Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Patna: Five members of a debt-ridden family in Bihar’s Nawada town reportedly died by suicide after consuming poison unable to withstand alleged torture and harassment by moneylenders. One of them is battling for life in hospital.

Unable to repay the debt to moneylenders, Kedar Lal Gupta, a fruit trader, along with his wife, three daughters and a son, allegedly consumed poison on Wednesday night.

Soon after ‘consuming poison’ near a busy road, they fell on the ground one after the other and died on the way to the hospital and during treatment, said some local residents. Gupta's daughter, Sakshi, was breathing when the locals rushed to help. She was admitted to a government-run hospital and is currently undergoing treatment.

Gupta's family allegedly ended their life after reportedly being under pressure from moneylenders, who were not ready to give them six months’ time to repay the debt, according to a purported two-page suicide note by Gupta.

In the note, dated November 8, 2022, Gupta highlighted the “torture, harassment and abuse by moneylenders that forced the family to take an extreme step,” according to reports.

He has alleged that of six moneylenders, including Manish Singh, Vikash Singh, Tuntun Singh, Vijay Singh, and Pankaj Sinha, were “torturing” him and his family and described them as “termites of the society.”

"Such people (moneylenders) are licking the entire country like termites and would destroy everything," the purported note read.

Gupta, in the note, is said to have admitted that he had taken debt from moneylenders, locally known as mahajans, and was facing “harassment, abuse and torture” since the past five to six years. He also mentioned that he had already repaid interest, which was “two to three times” the total debt taken, but his debt had not ended.

At the end of his purported note, Gupta alleged that the moneylenders had “destroyed the lives of many people”, and there was urgent need to check their activities.

Gupta's son Prince Kumar,17, minutes before he breathed his last in the hospital on Wednesday late night, reportedly admitted that they had consumed poison to get rid of moneylenders' torture.

Sakshi, who is in hospital, also reportedly blamed moneylenders for repeatedly pressuring her father and the entire family.

"My father and all of us have no option but to take this extreme step to get rid of the unbearable situation. We were forced to consume poison because moneylenders were not ready to give us any time," she is quoted as saying in local reports.

As per the reports, some neighbours of Gupta also said that he had taken loans from some moneylenders and was struggling to repay those due to a financial crunch. His fruit business was not doing well since demonetisation, followed by the COVID pandemic, they said. The entire family had been distressed over debt for the past few years as moneylenders repeatedly put pressure on them, they added.

"Gupta had been facing a financial crunch and was under stress due to moneylenders because he was unable to pay back the loan he had taken. His story has been doing rounds in the locality after the family died by suicide", Suresh Prasad, a resident, told NewsClick.

Another resident Amrender Kumar said Gupta was passing through a financial crunch and was under mental stress to pay back the debt.

The family lived in a rented house in the new area mohalla in Nawada for several years. Gupta was running a fruit shop, their only livelihood source.

Besides Gupta and his son Prince, the other deceased have been identified as his wife Anita Kumari,47, daughter Shabnam Kumari, 20, and Gudiya Kumari,17.

Suicides by debt-ridden farmers or small-time businessmen are not common in impoverished Bihar.

Local police are investigating the case, and five bodies have been sent for a post-mortem. The reports are awaited.

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