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Threatened by an ex-rebel, pregnant woman, 2 other family members end their lives

Thursday, 4 September 2014 - 5:25am IST | Place: GUWAHATI | Agency: dna

Threatened by a former militant for failing to repay debts, three members of a family, including a pregnant woman, ended their lives by jumping into the swirling Brahmaputra
waters. The incident occurred in Assam's Sonitpur district on Tuesday evening.

Who are the victims?
Bhabani Sarma (55), his son Manjul (33), and daughter-in-law Astami (28). She was in an advanced stage of her pregnancy. Bhabani's wife Makan (50) survived after being rescued by the police and locals.

Why did they take the extreme step?
Bhabani was an employee of state electricity board who had taken a loan of Rs 60 lakh from one Ranju Saharia, a surrendered militant of United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), to open a TV showroom. It, however, did not see the light of the day. The family was allegedly harassed and threatened with dire consequences by the former rebel for failing to repay debts.

What does the lone survivor say?
"He (Saharia) had subjected us to threats and intimidation as we couldn't repay the debts for a long time. He claimed that the loan amount with interest had mounted to Rs2.8 crore," Makan told journalists.
"We had recently sold off our car and paid Rs15 lakh to him but he pressurised us to pay Rs 4 lakh every month. The pressures, and also threats, were intolerable. So, all of us decided to end our lives," she added.

Has any arrest been made?
The police have arrested Makan under Section 309 (attempt to commit suicide) of the IPC. The police said they would also register a case against the former militant for alleged abatement of suicide. He is an inmate of the Ulfa's (pro-talks faction) designated camp in Mangaldoi.
The faction is engaged in peace negotiations with the central government.

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