MP: Family of farmers who committed suicide borrows more to pay for last rites

  • Ritesh Mishra, Hindustan Times, Mangovan Ghat (Damoh)
  • Updated: Apr 14, 2015 22:47 IST

Water drips from the mud roof of the hut and, at first glance, it's the only movement you can see at the former residence of two brothers - now deceased.

If you didn't meet them while they still breathed, you'll have to make do with a couple of grainy photographs placed on a chair at the entrance of the house.

Upon hearing a sound, you look inside to see a few women weeping in the dark for all the woes that befell them ever since the rain gods decided to flood their fields. Crop damage, debt and, finally, the death of loved ones.

Unfortunately, fate isn't done playing games with the family. After all, how can their penniless sons even cremate the dead without borrowing just a little more?

Halley Singh Lodhi's father, 55-year-old Roop Singh, committed suicide on March 29 by hanging himself from a tree facing the very field that had been washed out by the rains.

On April 4, his 40-year-old uncle Virendra followed suit. The reason was obvious - Virendra had taken a loan of Rs 30,000 from a moneylender and was paying Rs 900 per month towards fulfilling it.

Now, in the aftermath of the rains, repaying the sum had become an impossibility.

However, the cycle of misery has to trundle on. On Tuesday, 24-year-old Halley completed the 'Gangajali' rites for the deceased and invited 200 people from his community for a 'Bhoj'. But how could a labourer like Halley pay for a ceremony this expensive?

"I had to take Rs 20,000 from my contractor to organise the Bhoj. It will take me about four years to return the money," says Halley, tears streaming down his face.

However, a little help did come from unexpected quarters. Virendra's wife says that Kamla Bai, the village panchayat, gave Rs 1,000 per head to perform the last rites for the deceased.

The villagers, for their part, helped the family by donating foodgrains for the 'Bhoj'.

If there was an entity that helped the least, it was the administration. Or so the family says.

Meanwhile, the family's future appears bleak because all their hopes hinged on the ruined harvest.

"We have been suffering crop damage for last three years, but nobody ever came to our aid," says Virendra's 20-year-old son, Daan Singh.

Both Virendra and Roop left behind a family of 21 members, and most of its adults work as farm labourers.

"I have taken Rs 4,000 from an acquaintance to travel to Allahabad and set the ashes of my father and uncle afloat in the Ganga. I know that our debt is only getting bigger, but I will work hard to return every paisa," says Halley.

When contacted, Tendukheda sub-divisional magistrate CP Patel said, "The family was legally not entitled to any compensation because the crop damage was not very extensive. I ordered the panchayat to give the family Rs 2,000 for the undertaking the last rites, and even tried to source some money from other schemes."

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