Poverty Forced Couple to Take Their Own Lives

by Medindia Content Team on Nov 2 2007 7:15 PM

A landless couple in Orissa's Jagatsinghpur district jumped into a river and died even as a farmer leader Wednesday alleged their poverty forced them to take the extreme step and demanded a probe. They had not had anything to eat for three days.` Raghu Jena, a 50-year-old resident of Baradia village, some 120 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, and his wife Chila Jena, 45, worked as labourers in the village and nearby areas, district Krushak Sabha president Lovakanta Swain told IANS.

Raghu was suffering from fever for the last 10 days, but his wife was not able to take him to a doctor as they did not have any money. Their sons, Rakesh, 16, and Rajesh, 20, migrated to Chennai two years ago and have been working as labourers there, Swain said.

The poverty-stricken couple met local government officials seeking help. They also wanted their names to be included in the list of people living below the poverty line so that they could purchase rice at subsidised prices. Their efforts, however, failed and they had not eaten for three days.

The couple finally decided to end their lives and jumped into the nearby river Devi Tuesday afternoon, Swain said. Their bodies were recovered Wednesday. "I have written letters to the National Human Rights Commission and the State Human Rights Commission demanding a probe into these suicides," Swain said. "There are many in our district living in acute poverty and needing immediate help," he added. Local block development officer Niranjan Chand said: "We are probing the couple's suicide. We will also discuss this incident in the panchayat meeting."