A mother and daughter set themselves on fire allegedly after a bank threatened to impound their house in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram district. The 19-year-old daughter Vyshnavi died during the incident and her mother, Latha, has been admitted to Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital in serious condition with major burn injuries, hospital authorities told TNM.
The incident occurred on Tuesday around 3 pm at their house in Neyyattinkara. Chandran, father of the deceased woman, alleged that bank officials were threatening that the property would be impounded on Tuesday. He claims that the threat drove Latha and Vyshnavi to attempt to take their own lives. Officials of the Marayamuttom Police Station said a case has been registered under the Code of Criminal Procedure Section 174 (Police to enquire and report on suicide).
“Husband Chandran and his mother were at the house when the duo set themseleves on fire. Both of them were sitting in the front side of the house. Latha and Vyshnavi went into the bedroom and set fire on themselves,” a police official told TNM.
According to reports, the family had taken a loan of Rs 5 lakh from Canara Bank’s branch in Neyyanthikara as housing loan. Over the past few years, the family has not been able to repay the loan because of financial difficulties. They allegedly owed the bank Rs 6.8 lakh.
Bank officials had arrived at the house last Friday to impound the property, but according to reports, the family had given a written statement promising to repay the full amount by Tuesday.
“The family was trying the sell the house in order to pay the loan. Though they were expecting a buyer, they could not arrange the money. The bank officials had been pressurising them over the past few days, saying they will impound the property. On Tuesday morning, they called the family members saying they will come to impound the house by noon,” a neighbour of the family told the media.
Enraged by the incident, residents in the area began protesting in front of the Neyyattinkara branch of the bank on Tuesday evening.
Canara Bank, however, has told the media that they followed standard procedures in dealing with the family. TNM reached out to the bank officials, but they were not available to comment.
Meanwhile, Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac said that the incident showed the insensitive attitude of banks. “This is an unfortunate incident. The bank should have intervened with sensitivity. We will raise the issue in the state-level bankers committee. Though there are limitations for the government to intervene directly in the bank’s workings, we will act on the issue and will make the bank offer compensation to the family,” the minister told Manorama News.
Watch: How a loan surety of Rs 2 lakh became a debt of Rs 2.7 crore for a hapless family in Kerala
What drove Kerala mother-daughter to suicide? Dowry, black magic and torture, says note