Umesh Kumar (25) had been struggling to earn and support his family of five in Panchkula since the lockdown began.
The guilt of neither being able to attend nor pay for his sister’s wedding at their native village in Uttar Pradesh reportedly took a toll on him. A week after the wedding, Umesh hanged himself to death at his rented two room accommodation.
Umesh resided at Barwala’s Bhagwanpur village, with his wife Rubi (22) and their three children, a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a six-month-old infant.
His body was discovered by his wife as she woke up on the morning of July 4. She raised an alarm, following which their neighbours rushed to the house. The village’s sarpanch was alerted, who called the police around 7.30 am.
Rubi sobs uncontrollably as she recounts the days leading up to her husband’s suicide. “The lockdown had been hard on us. He used to worked as a construction worker, and was out of work for over three months. We were barely surviving on the ration provided by the administration. But it only lasted us two months,” she says.
As per a national policy, ration tokens of eligible persons, who did not hold a ration card, were issued by the district authorities. The tokens, initially, could be used to get free rations for the months of April and May.
Umesh had managed to get a few jobs since unlock begun and the family was able to get by. “It was the invitation for his sister’s wedding that took place on June 29 that made him worry,” says Rubi.
Eldest of his five siblings, Umesh felt responsible to spend for his sister’s wedding, his wife says. “But we did not even have any money to reach our village, let alone help with some money for dowry and other expenditures. I forced him to go several times.
After he denied having sufficient money to hire a car or a tempo to reach our native place with three small children, I even asked him to go back alone and leave me here, but he refused,” she says.
“He had since felt guilty and was drinking on the night of July 3”, she adds. It was only after Umesh’s death that his relatives reached Panchkula and ferried his body along with his family back home at his native village. His last rites were held on Monday.
In-charge of the investigation, Sub Inspector Gurmeet Singh said, “Their poverty killed him. He could not even attend his sister’s wedding due to lack of money.”
This is the fourth such suicide reported from the district. As many as three residents of Rajiv Colony slum area took their lives in the past month, over job loss and reduced or negligible income.
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