Poverty drives man to hang self, UP denies starvation as cause

The kitchen fire in Ram Khelawan's house at Kathwara village in Bakshi Ka Talab had not been lighted for the last four days. Ram (32), wife Rekha, sons Sachin (3) and Golu (2) survived on the food they got from villagers. On Saturday, Ram hanged himself from a tree outside the village, located about 20 km from the state capital.

On Friday night, the family had shared a dinner of one chapatti and chutney which Rekha had brought from a neighbour's house. With Ram being ill, he ate half a piece of bread, Sachin ate the other half. Rekha did not eat anything while Golu was made to drink water and sleep. After spending the night on paddy straw on the floor of his 10x6 ft room, Ram woke up before 5 am next morning, told his wife he was going to answer nature's call, and hanged himself.

Besides a few vessels and clothes there are two other things in his house — a Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna card, which did not help him get medical treatment, and a flush toilet built under the Total Sanitation Scheme. His cousin Gangaram said that they had made several requests to the village pradhan for a BPL card, which would have helped them get subsidised ration, but in vain.

In 2010 Ram stopped working as a daily-wager due to chronic neck pain. "He went to several hospitals but got no relief. In July, we mortgaged our two bigha land for four years and got Rs 21,000 for treatment," said Rekha. "I used to ask villagers for something to eat. But how long could they give us food?" she added.

Tehsildar Rajesh Srivastava, who submitted a report to Additional District Magistrate (Administration), said the family is poor but it wasn't a case of starvation death as the family had something to eat. Srivastava said prima facie it seems that Ram took the extreme step as he was mentally disturbed because of his illness.

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