Two days before Mohammed Umar Khan, 36, committed suicide in his house in Seelampur on Monday, he met his friend and neighbour Mohammed Iqbal over a cup of tea. Khan was frustrated because his aluminium business had been hit due to cash crunch. He had shut down his factory in Mandawali two weeks ago as he was unable to pay the labourers.
“Umar was depressed. He told me he was not able to sleep. His business was running into losses ever since demonetisation was announced. Repaying debts and making payments had become difficult for him,” recalls Iqbal.
When Iqbal woke up on Monday morning, he was told that Khan was dead. He had hanged himself with a belt.
Khan lived with family in a two-storey house in northeast Delhi’s Seelampur. He is survived by wife Tarannum and three children- daughter Bushra, 12, son Adeeb, 8, and son Sameer, 4.
According to Khan’s family, he committed suicide around 6.30 am on Monday. Half an hour ago, he woke up Bushra and asked her to get ready to go to school. Later, he went to Tarannum who was in the kitchen and asked her to make tea. Then, Khan went to a verandah on the first floor, pulled out a chair, climbed on it and hanged himself from the ceiling with a belt.
When tea was ready, Tarannum decided to call her husband and went downstairs, only to come across his body around 6.30am. She screamed that alerted the neighbours. Tarannum’s family, which lives in the same block, informed police. Khan’s body was taken for post mortem.
Police, however, have denied any demonetisation angle to the case.
“Khan was rushed to a local hospital where he was declared brought dead. No suicide note was found. He had sent a WhatsApp message to his brother but it did not get delivered due to poor connectivity. Further investigation is underway,” said a senior police officer.
In the WhatsApp message, Khan has allegedly mentioned that he was under stress as he had borrowed money from many people.
Asma Khan, Tarannum’s sister-in-law, said he had begun smoking a lot for the past three weeks and was taking sleeping pills for the last eight days. She said Khan was depressed. After he was forced to shut his factory due to cash crunch, he had stopped talking and stayed indoors mostly.
Khan had even stood in bank and ATM queues and asked his wife to do the same. But the limit on the amount of withdrawal frustrated him, the family said.
“Umar had become thin. He needed lakhs of rupees to run his business. But that was becoming very difficult due to demonetisation. He was also under tremendous pressure to repay the money he had borrowed,” said Asma.
Khan hailed from district Badaun in Uttar Pradesh. He started his business in Delhi when he was in his early 20s. He was the first person in his family to migrate to the capital. After his aluminium business flourished, he helped other family members in his hometown to migrate to Delhi by finding jobs for them.
“If not for the cash crunch, Umar would have been able to run his business smoothly. He was very hardworking and honest,” said Asma.