“Hum buzdil nahin, majboor hain." (We are helpless, not cowards). These were the words in a suicide note written by a family of five from Bhopal, before taking the extreme step following constant harassment from moneylenders. Three of the family members died as a result, including two teenaged girls, police said.
The incident took place on the intervening night of November 25 and 26, when Sanjiv Joshi, his wife Archana (43), mother Nandita (67), and daughters Grishma (19) and Poorvi (16) all attempted death by suicide. On being called to the scene, police rushed them to hospital where Nandita and Poorvi died. Grishma died during treatment the next day. Two pet dogs of the family also died.
According to police, Joshi, an auto spares dealer, and his family had suffered losses during the Covid-19 lockdown last year. The family has named six people in the note – two men and four women. Police have booked people named in the note for abetment of suicide and further investigation is on.
Police said in the note the family also claimed that despite recovering massive sums, people named were still demanding money and had even threatened to abduct the girls.
Police further said Archana was running a school that had shut down five years ago, and she had since started a grocery shop at home. The shop suffered heavy losses during lockdown last year and the family was forced to borrow money, police added.
The note mentioned that the family had paid huge sums, but had yet to pay Rs 3.78 lakh, police said. The note mentions that Grishma and Purvi wished to become data scientist and fashion designer, but the moneylenders had upset their dreams and lives. The note also expresses despair over the behaviour of relatives, police added.
Police said Grishma was pursuing BTech while Purvi was a student of Class X in a private school. The note mentions that despite paying Rs 80,000, the loan remained the same at Rs 3.72 lakh and the family had to sell off household items to repay the loan. The interest rate was fixed at 2 per cent, but they were later charged Rs 10,000 on a weekly basis.
Local residents said Joshi had sufficient properties to repay the loan, but the moneylenders harassed them publicly to such an extent that the family took the extreme step.
One of their relatives, Rakesh Singh, said the family had three plots of land, two shops and a house. They had struck a deal to sell their house for Rs 36 lakh but the moneylenders harassed them so much that they decided to die, Singh added.
Condemning the acts of the moneylenders, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered strict action against unlawful elements. He called the incident “heart-wrenching and shocking". Chouhan also held a meeting at the CM House for discussing moneylending activities and the relevant action on Saturday. Moneylenders will be closely monitored, he has said.