Poverty, hunger drive elderly couple in Bihar to suicide


Patna : Poverty and hunger forced an elderly couple in a Bihar village to commit suicide, villagers said Sunday. However, a local official maintained the couple died of cancer but was unable to explain how the deaths occurred at the same time.

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Farm labourers Inderdeo Mahto and his wife Kari Devi, both in their 60s and residents of Khushalpur village in Gaya district, allegedly consumed poison Saturday after going without food for days as they found no work since early July, villagers claimed. The village is about 100 km from Patna.

“They were left in the lurch, no one helped them and hunger forced them to commit suicide,” Manoj Prasad, a villager, said.

“Mahto and his wife used to work as farm labourers to earn their livelihood but for over a month, there was no work available because of the drought like situation and people were reluctant to hire them for other jobs due to their age. He was not supported by his two sons, both of whom live separately and also work as labourers,” Suresh Singh, another resident of the village, said.

Village council head Rambha Devi also told IANS Sunday that the couple died due to poverty and hunger.

The names of the couple reportedly did not figure in the list of those below poverty line (BPL). Villagers said the couple had requested authorities to add their names to the list but this was not done. However, both of Mahto’s sons figure in the list.

Block Development Officer (BDO) Shivnarain Singh said the couple died of cancer but was unable to explain how the deaths occurred at the same time.

Police have recovered the bodies and sent them for post mortem. A case has been filed.

Scanty rainfall has affected millions of farmers in Bihar as transplanting of paddy seedlings has been badly hit. The state has seen a deficit of 43 percent rainfall so far in this monsoon season.

The state government admitted that a drought-like situation was prevailing in 32 of the state’s 38 districts and has set up a crisis management team, headed by Chief Secretary Anup Mukherjee, for measures to tackle the situation.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called an all-party meeting here Sunday to discuss the issue. The government is considering declaring some worst affected districts drought-hit.