Kandu vatti (lending money at usurious interest rates) showed its ugly face in Tirunelveli on Monday, as three persons of a family of four including a woman and her two daughters succumbed to severe burn injuries they suffered in an open self-immolation at the collector’s office.
The four were rushed to a government hospital, where three of them – the mother and two children – died. The husband, Esakkimuthu, is still battling for life at the government hospital.
The four – Subbulakshi, five-year-old Madhisaranya and one-and-a-half-year-old Akshya Bharani – had suffered over 70 per cent burns.
A resident of Kasidharmam under Achchanpudhur police station, Esakkimuthu had borrowed ₹1.45 lakh from a moneylender Muthulakshmi a few months ago to help his relative Kannammal. Though he had reportedly repaid ₹2.34 lakh towards the principal and the interest, Muthulakshmi was allegedly harassing him for a further ₹2 lakh.
The family had sought the intervention of Achanputhur police for a solution to the usury practice. However, the police were allegedly apathetic towards the couple and failed to take any action against the moneylender.
Esakkimuthu’s younger brother, Gopi, who accompanied his brother’s family to the district collector’s office, asked his brother to wait under the tree and went out for tea, when Esakkimuthu had resorted to this extreme decision.