Family of four set themselves on fire outside TN Collectorate over loan harassment

Chennai: Harassed by moneylenders, a daily wage labourer Isakimuthu along with his wife and two children set themselves on fire outside a Tirunelveli Collectorate on Monday.

Isakimuthu of Kasidharmam village in Tirunelveli district had borrowed Rs 1,40,000 from two moneylenders, Muthulakshmi and Ganapathiraj. They were reportedly told to pay a monthly interest of 10% of the total amount until the principal was paid back. This type of loans is an illegal practice and known as ‘kandhu vatti’, which is prevalent in Tamil Nadu.

According to reports, Isakimuthu and his wife had paid over Rs 2 lakh as interest but the moneylenders would allegedly harass and abuse them in front of their children. Forced to take an action, Isakimuthu filed two petitions at the Collectorate, but no action was allegedly taken, reports TNM.

The couple went to the Collector’s office on Monday at 11 am with a five-year-old daughter and one-and-a-half year old toddler. Where they poured kerosene over their torsos and burnt themselves up.

Several men came to help extinguish the fire with sand and water. When the fire was doused, family was rushed to a hospital, where Isakimuthu’s wife Subbulakshmi and his eldest daughter died, while he and his younger child remained critical.

The police denied any inaction, claiming that the family took an extreme step without giving authorities time to look into the matter.

“They had given petitions to the Collector earlier and investigations were underway,” says an official at the Tirunelveli Superintendent of Police’s office. “But they took this step before they got to the bottom of the matter. Our officers are now looking into the matter again,” he added.

The Tenkasi DSP is probing the allegations of harassment.