Kunhiparu, the 70-year-old mother of Jagadeesh, hasn’t been told that her son is no more. Living in Trikaripur in Kasargode, in the northern-end of Kerala, this mother is still awaiting her son’s return.
Jagadeesh, who had been working as a junior health inspector in Kasargode hanged himself in a lodge room in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday evening. Hired on temporary basis, Jagadeesh was sacked in September 2016. His family claimed that poverty and mental pressure had driven him to take the extreme step.
Jagadeesh was single and lived with his mother and younger brother. He used to travel to Thiruvananthapuram often with his former colleagues to meet officials. He had repeatedly submitted pleas asking the government to disburse salary arrears. His last visit to the capital city was for the same purpose. In his suicide note, Jagadeesh reportedly wrote that the issue of arrears would get settled with his death. “He was upset that he was unemployed. He had been working with the Health Department since 2010 and hence didn’t try for any other job. Before that, he was running a small shop near our house,” Saseendran, Jagadeesh’s elder brother told TNM.
Saseendran, who had reached Thiruvananthapuram upon hearing the news of his brother’s death, said that he hadn’t yet told their mother about it. “I know her health condition and did not know how to inform her,” he said. On Thursday, the Congress staged a protest in front of the state Secretariat with Jagadeesh's body. The Opposition alleged that the government's apathy had led to his death. Congress leaders MM Hassan and former Health Minister V S Sivakumar led the protest.
Jagadeesh had traveled to Thiruvananthapuram with a friend named Krishnakumar. He too, had lost his temporary job along with Jagadeesh. “We had planned to meet the Director of Health Services and the Health Secretary. Later, Jagadeesh told me that he was not feeling well and that he wouldn't be able to come with me. I left the room around 3 in the afternoon and returned by 6. Since there was no answer from the room, the lodge employees broke the door and found that he'd hanged himself,” Krishnakumar said.
Krishnakumar said that after the LDF government came to power, Jagadeesh was transferred from the Kasargode general hospital to a hospital in Adur in the Karnataka border. Jagadeesh found the daily travel to Adur, which is more than two hours away from Trikaripur, to be beyond his means. The Health Department had hired a number of people on a temporary basis in 2010 to work on the prevention of infectious diseases. In September 2016, they were terminated from service with the Department citing the reason that those diseases had been brought under control. Even at the time of termination, their arrears were not disbursed.
“We have sent a proposal seeking funds to settle the arrears. I don’t exactly remember complaint given by particular individuals in this regard,” said Director of Health Services, Ramesh.