Damodaran, a native of Kunnamkulam in Kerala’s Thrissur was shocked to find the body of his 27-year-old son, Sarath hanging on July 20. Sarath, a tipper lorry driver, was jobless due to the lockdown from May 8. Damodaran, a coolie labourer, too died by suicide after his son’s death.
The father-son duo is among 17 people, including one minor, who died by suicide due to financial issues in the past six weeks.
Similarly on June 21, Manoj Kumar, 45, his 38-year-old wife Renju and their 16-year-old daughter were found dead at Nanthancode, barely a kilometre away from the Kerala State Assembly building. Kumar, a goldsmith by profession, decided to end life by consuming poison, due to the financial burden after job loss.
Among those who died by suicide due to financial difficulties ranges from bus owners to business owners.
Forty-eight-year-old PC Rajamani, a native of Wayanad district, ran the Brahmaputra bus service along the Kadalmadu-Sultan Bathery route. His relatives and residents said Rajamani was in deep financial stress when the bus service had to be suspended due to Covid-19. He died on July 20 after consuming poison, according to his relatives.
There have been many similar cases of suicide where people died of financial difficulties. An activist says that the people who died due to financial issues were all willing to work, however, the system denied them the opportunity.
“They are all people with self-respect. This is a particular situation, created by the system in an unprecedented condition. They have everything, including willingness to work. However, the system denies them the opportunity and they are in no mood to approach anyone for financial support. Instead, they end the life either alone or with family, alleged in some cases," said Dijo Kappen, a Consumer activist and a social observer based in central Kerala.
Many of them are clueless about the logic in opening and closing of shops. The beverage shops under the state government selling Indian Made Foreign Liquor were opened on June 17 for five days a week.
“However, the other shops had to be at the mercy of the government policy. So, they are bewildered as the other shops had to be closed. Also, the timing of the shops and working days have dwindled. In effect, they are getting eight days in a month,” added Kappen.
This prompted many like Arshad a merchant from Nedumangad Thiruvananthapuram to speak against the ‘illogical’ lockdown which is killing the trader’s community. A video where he describing the plight of his community and the unscientific practice to the authorities is viral on social media.
“You see crowded KSRTC buses, long queues in front of beverage shops. The online market is thriving as the other shops are closed. Even the officials are helpless in this lockdown guidelines mainly prepared based on the TPR. How can you justify the rationale in making one side of the road as a D zone, preventing the opening of shops while business as usual in the other side?" he questioned.
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