A family of four attempted to kill themselves in Theni district on Wednesday after they were allegedly harassed by loan sharks.
According to reports, Saravanan (40) along with his wife Sugatha (36) and daughters Vaishali (14) and Vaishnavi (12) from Mariamman Kovilpatti village near Theni attempted suicide by drinking pesticide, at a field near their house. The family was rushed to the Theni Government Hospital by people who found them in the field, and their condition is reported to be critical.
Saravanan, who works as a compounder at a private hospital in Uttamapalayam had borrowed Rs 2 lakh from Suruliraj in 2014. He had reportedly given seven cheques and a blank promissory note as assurance. Over the years, Saravanan reportedly repaid the Rs 2 lakh principle, and paid an interest of Rs 1.75 lakh.
However, Suruliraj did not return the blank cheques and the promissory note that Saravanan had given him. Along with his friends Kaliappan, Sankaranarayanan etc, Suruliraj reportedly used these blank cheques and promissory notes to threaten Saravanan and his family. He claimed that Saravanan had borrowed Rs 10 lakh, and that he still had to return Rs 7 lakh. Suruliraj reportedly collected more blank cheques and promissory notes from Saravanan.
âThey asked them to sign on a blank sheet of paper, told them to get out of the house and transfer everything they owned to them (accused). They tortured them and verbally abused the woman and kids,â alleged Maheshwari, a relative of Saravanan.
An FIR has been registered against five persons including Suruliraj. Three people have been arrested so far â Lakshmanan, Kaliappan and Selvakumar. Theni police say Suruliraj and Sankaranarayana, another accused are absconding.
The police however are probing all angles in the case. A police official who spoke to TNM said, âSaravanan was friends with the accused and had borrowed money from them. They had filed a cheque bounce case against Saravanan some years ago. He was convicted by the district court in connection with this. Saravanan was then granted bail by the High Court recently.â
On hearing that Saravanan had been granted bail, the police officer said that the accused had filed another complaint on Monday. âSaravanan was summoned to the police station on Tuesday, but he never came. On Wednesday morning he attempted suicide,â said the official.
Wednesdayâs attempted suicide by an entire family is tragically similar to an incident in Tirunelveli in October. Isakimuthu, a daily wage worker, his wife and two children had set themselves on fire outside the Tirunelveli Collectorate after their complaints over harassment from loan sharks fell on deaf ears. All four family members succumbed to their burn injuries.
âKandhu vattiâ is an illegal practice that has a pervasive presence across Tamil Nadu, which borrowers resort to when they need money urgently. The exorbitant interest rates charged in such loans sometimes end up costing borrowers many times the original loan amount.
There have been several reported cases of farmers killing themselves following harassment over loans they have taken from local lenders, and families have lost their homes and lands when unable to pay exorbitant interest rates.