August 5, 2020 3:15:38 pm
Harjit Singh had had a good run as a travel agent. The 42-year-old travel was doing good and had even taken money from some people to help send their children abroad. His plan, however, went haywire as Covid-19 pandemic struck and international flights and the visa process was put on hold.
On July 28, his decomposed body was fished out from a canal near Gholiya Khurd in Moga, 19 days after he went missing on July 12. An FIR was registered against four persons for alleged abetment to suicide at Ludhiana Sadar police station on the basis of a note found from Harjit Singh’s office in Ludhiana.
According to his brother, the said four persons had allegedly been harassing Harjit Singh for the money he had taken money from them for sending their children abroad.
In another case, a 44-year old car mechanic from Shimlapuri of Ludhiana, allegedly immolated himself on July 31 after harassment from his wife. He succumbed to his injuries at PGIMER Chandigarh and the police filed an FIR against his wife for alleged abetment to suicide, on the complaint of his father who claimed that his son was a tuberculosis patient and his wife did not even serve him food properly. He alleged that her attitude towards her husband had changed after he was diagnosed with TB since a year and on July 31, she did not even open the door of their house for him, following which he set himself on fire.
Ajit Kumar Rai (38), who worked as a daily wager, allegedly hanged himself to death on the night of May 9 in his room in Rajiv Gandhi colony, after harassment for days that he faced while failing to get ration during lockdown, for his family despite registering on government helpline numbers and running out of work due to lockdown. His wife Savita, too, used to work at a factory but since the lockdown, she too had been temporarily laid-off. Savita and their two children went back to their village in Uttar Pradesh after his death.
Sahil Arora was a final-year student of bachelors in Pharmacy at Punjab College of Technical Education (PCTE), Baddowal. On May 9, the 22-year-old allegedly died by suicide at his residence in Abdullahpur Basti of Ludhiana. His body was found hanging in his room and according to the family, he was desperately waiting for his final exams to end and so that he could start a job thereafter. However, due to the lockdown exams were postponed and since then he was depressed thinking about his job and uncertain future, his father told the The Indian Express.
The figures from Ludhiana city police reveal a disturbing trend, according to which at least 120 persons ended their lives and died by suicide during the lockdown period from April 1 to July 31. This figure was nearly half, at 61, in the first three months of the year from January 1 to March 31, before the pandemic outbreak and imposition of the lockdown. The figures reveal how the lockdown took a toll on the mental health of the people in the city.
More details from the police, regarding suicide cases doubling in the lockdown period, reveal that in as many as 44 cases of suicide reported during the lockdown period, the reason was victims suffering from some sort of depression and lockdown aggravating their situation further. Similarly, domestic violence and other issues at home was the reason in at least sixteen cases, financial problem in five cases and five students also died by suicide during the lockdown. People from as young as nine years to those in eighties died by suicide during the lockdown.
On May 16, a 9-year old girl allegedly died by suicide under mysterious circumstances in Dhandhran Enclave. Parents of the victim claimed that she had ended her life by hanging herself after a spat with her brother over playing games on a mobile phone.
On the night of June 23, a man allegedly opened an attack on his wife with an axe at their rented accommodation in Gurdev Nagar of Ludhiana. After the woman died, he allegedly consumed pesticide and died too.
Police said that Rakesh Kumar (38), who used to iron clothes for livelihood, allegedly attacked his wife Jyoti (25) with an axe. He allegedly hit her thrice in the neck and head and she died. After her death, he allegedly consumed pesticide and died by suicide. According to their family, the couple used to fight on a daily basis and since the lockdown started, their fights had multiplied due to financial and other issues.
On May 14, a private school employee died by suicide while talking to his wife on video call. The victim, a resident of Housing Board colony, was working as a computer operator with a private school. He had borrowed Rs 2 lakh from someone but failed to return it in time following which he was under depression.
Ludhiana police commissioner Rakesh Agrawal said that suicides during the lockdown increased as it took toll on people’s mental health due to several issues such as depression, debt, financial issues, losing jobs etc. He added that police were making every effort to sensitize people and keep them mentally healthy during lockdown by holding online counselling sessions etc.
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