Family issues behind Kerala mother-daughter suicides

This story has been updated with new information.

A suicide note recovered on Wednesday from the home of the 41-year-old mother and her 19-year-old daughter, who set themselves ablaze a day before, has revealed that family issues were behind the extreme step, and was not provoked by the risk that their home would be seized by bank officials for non-repayment of housing loan.

Lekha and her daughter, Vaishnavi, doused themselves with kerosene and ignited the fuel in their bedroom on Tuesday. Hearing their cries, neighbours rushed in to rescue by breaking open the doors. While Vaishnavi died on the spot, her mother passed away at the hospital.

The police probe team that arrived on the scene on Wednesday saw mother's suicide note stuck on the wall in another room. A message written on the wall held four people are responsible for the twin suicides - Lekha's husband, Chandran, her mother in law, her sister and the sister's husband.

The note also said that Lekha was taken to a person specializing in black magic.

Speaking to the media later, the police official investigating the case said there was no mention of any bank recovery proceedings in the note, which said that Lekha was being constantly harassed by her mother-in-law.

"The letter reveals everything and we have taken all the four into custody and have recorded their arrest. The charge levelled at the moment is that of abetting suicide and the probe will continue," the official said.

Chandran, however, told reporters that he has no clue about why he has been taken into custody by the police.

"I was abroad and returned just six months back. I knew that my mother and my wife were often engaged in verbal duels. I have no other clue at all," said Chandran, while his mother said she is also innocent and has done no wrong.

"I had given my consent to sell the house, after recovery proceedings began. I have done nothing wrong," Chandran's mother said.

There was a huge public outcry on Tuesday after it surfaced that Canara Bank officials have been after the family for recovery of the balance of housing loan.

On Wednesday morning, various political outfits protested against the Canara Bank, while Congress party activists went on a rampage here causing damage to the regional office of the bank.

Thereafter, three branches of the bank near the home of the suicide victims remained shut as a matter of precaution.

The protests were called off, however, when it emerged that the suicides were provoked by family issues.

In an official statement on Tuesday, Canara Bank had said Chandran had availed a Rs 5 lakh loan in 2005, which was declared a non-performing asset (NPA) in 2010, and that legal proceedings had been initiated in the matter.

Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

P M Ravindran

5 days ago

Sad that two good human beings have been forced to take the extreme step. Its true that the banks are making too much profit by giving pittance for deposits and for grabbing exorbitant interest on loans, that is in the case of ordinary, hard working, honest individuals. But that is a matter to be resolved by the concerned authorities. The local bank authorities have no say in the matter. Hence even if the bank had proceeded with recovery activities that is no reason for political goons to take law into their hands. It remains to be seen if the law will catch up with them. With the accused husband claiming that he had been abroad and returned only six months back and the mother claiming that she had permitted the house to be disposed off to pay back the loan, the case of suicide raises many questions that only a scientific inquiry involving specialists even from the fields of psychology and psychiatry can answer.

Jibu Marks

6 days ago

There is a new twist to this story, as per latest reports. Today's media reports points to a suicide note written by the deceased, accusing her husband and MiL along with few other relatives abetting their suicide. Looks like the accussed were into black magic and sorcery to wiggle out of the loan rather than making any prudent efforts to pay back the same.

Harish Kohli

7 days ago

5 lakhs becomes 14.2 lakhs (7.8+6.4) = suicide . Like the farmers
Lakhs of crores become 0.00 = St. Kits, Dubai, UK, Antigua, Cayman Islands, Switzerland...........
Mera Bharat Mahan

The Few Cases Where Customers Got Justice from the Banking Ombudsman
The Banking Ombudsman (BO) scheme, which was launched in 2006 as part of the Reserve Bank of India’s Consumer Education and Protection Department, has released a report that details some exemplary cases of grievance redressal by the Ombudsman in favour of the bank customers.  
 
The report published on the Reserve Bank’s website shares in some details the various issues that the Ombudsman has resolved. This has been classified into broad categories under which customers face such hassles as ATM transaction, credit charges, deposits, electronic banking transactions, loans and advances, mis-selling, pension remittance, service deficiency, among others. 
 
Credit Card Dues in Crores after 13 Years
 
In an interesting case of redressal by the Ombudsman, a customer alleged that he had paid Rs35,000 in settlement of his outstanding dues for his two credit cards. However, 13 years after paying all his dues, he received two separate notices from banks for paying Rs1.24 crore and Rs1.58 crore, respectively as outstanding amount on his credit cards. 
 
The banks in their defence replied that their credit cards data was inadvertently sold to an asset reconstruction company (ARC) and that it had to be taken up with the ARCs to nullify the outstanding dues and carry out necessary amendments in credit status of the customer. 
 
ARCs have been specially established for the purpose of purchasing bad assets or non-performing assets (NPAs) from banks at a negotiable price and help banks to clean up their balance sheets (by removing the NPAs).
 
In this case, the banking ombudsman directed the banks to settle the grievance by making outstanding dues as nil and clean up the complainant’s credit history with the credit information companies.
 
ATM Frauds
 
The banking ombudsman report also goes on to document commonplace cases such as ATM frauds where a complainant claimed that he received a call that his ATM card had been blocked and that he had to share his credentials to unblock the same. 
 
The complainant shared his details and instantly after the call Rs53,900 were deducted from his account. He immediately informed the bank and requested that they block his card. 
However the fraudulent transactions continued and the complainant faced a total loss of Rs6,88,900 from several transactions carried out from his card. 
 
The banking ombudsman observed, “Since the complainant had reported the fraud immediately to the bank, the latter should have taken necessary action to disallow any further transaction.  As such, the bank is advised to pay Rs6,35,000 or the amount which was withdrawn after reporting the first fraudulent transaction to the bank.”
 
The report also mentioned other such successful cases of redressal where from a complainant’s account, Rs25,000 was withdrawn from an ATM in another city even though the card was in his possession in a different city.  
The banking ombudsman advised the bank to pay the amount since the bank failed to prove negligence or fault on the csustomer’s part. 
 
This is part of the RBI’s Circular on Limiting Liability of Customers in Unauthorised Transactions where it mentions that, “Third party breach where the deficiency lies neither with the bank nor with the customer but lies elsewhere in the system, and the customer notifies the bank within three working days of receiving the communication from the bank regarding the unauthorised transaction.”
 
When bank deducts minimum average balance charges from a zero balance account
 
A customer claimed that he received an e-mail from the bank informing him that his monthly balance requirement for his newly opened savings (SB) account was Rs2,500. However, as the customer had opened a zero balance account, he took the case up with the bank and it was then that he was informed that his account was a regular savings account with a requirement of minimum average balance (MAB) and that Rs3,500 was already deducted from the account in view of the same. 
 
The banking ombudsman in this case observed that after levying the MAB charges, the available balance in the complainant’s bank account became zero and subsequently when there was a credit entry in the account, the bank debited the complete amount towards outstanding MAB charges. The BO advised the bank to refund complete MAB charges. 
 
This was due to an RBI guideline on the levy of penal charges on non-maintenance of minimum balances in savings bank accounts which states that, “It should be ensured that the balance in the savings account does not turn into negative balance solely on account of levy of charges for non-maintenance of minimum balance.” and hence the banking ombudsman claimed that it was not justified in levying such charges for the period when the balance was nil. 
 
Fraudulent Transfer through RTGS
 
The banking ombudsman has also received cases of forgery where a complainant claimed that an unauthorised real-time gross settlement (RTGS) transfer of Rs8.50 lakh has been done from his account using a cheque, which was neither issued nor signed by him.
 
Interestingly, the customer claimed that he did not even receive an SMS alert regarding the debit.  
 
When the customer took this issue, the bank reversed Rs6.39 lakh. However, the balance amount of Rs2.11 lakh was not reversed by the bank. 
 
On enquiry, the bank informed him that a request was received by the bank for change of the customer’s mobile number. However on further enquiry, it was observed that the signatures on the application as well as on the cheque were different from those in the bank records. 
 
Keeping the above in mind and the fact that the bank had credited Rs6.39 lakh to the customer’s account, established that the bank had agreed to the claim of a fraudulent transaction in his account. The banking ombudsman advised the bank to pay the balance amount to the complainant.  
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COMMENTS

GLN Prasad

4 days ago

Maybe, they preferred to quote one favorable decision for 1000 denials, as their performance was published in several newspapers. Ombudsman works for the bank and not for the public.

P M Ravindran

5 days ago

Good to know that there are still ombudsmen who can take fair decisions. But I have enough of experiences with them, not only banking but insurance and local self government too, that I believe that these are also sold offices. In one case I had written to the CPPC of SBI at Thiruvananthapuram regarding the arrears due and when there was no reply for over a month I had approached the Banking OM only to get a reply that it doesn't come under the purview of the BOM Act and there was no provision for appeal either. That was when I wrote to the then Governor RBI, Raghuram Rajan, narrating the facts and exposing the fraud. I got my arrears within the next one month. But horror of horrors. after another couple of months I got a letter fro a Director in RBI (the appellate authority) that the (non existent) appeal was not sustainable!

VASANT KULKARNI

1 week ago

EYEOPENER FOR BANKS WHO NEGLECT CUSTOMERS.

Harish

1 week ago

The headline of the article says it all.

Know Your Insurance Policy Well
To say that we are living in uncertain times is to state the obvious. We face all kinds of risks; some of them could lead to accidents and even death. While nobody can foresee such eventualities, it leaves a trail of grief. However, life has to go on. This means that one needs funds for medical treatment or dealing with the consequences of death—particularly of the family’s breadwinner. At...
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