13 autorickshaw drivers die by suicide or cardiac arrest; ‘Mahalakshmi’ free bus ride for women being blamed

One common reason being suggested for the financial stress of the autorickshaw drivers is the launching of “Mahalakshmi” scheme

13 autorickshaw drivers die by suicide or cardiac arrest; ‘Mahalakshmi’ free bus ride for women being blamed

NALGONDA: HYDERABAD: In an alarming trend, deaths by suicide or due to stress-induced cardiac failures of autorickshaw drivers is on the rise in Telangana. Acute financial stress due to pressure of clearing loans obtained for the purchase of three-wheelers and the chasing by collection agents of finance companies are causing severe distress among the autorickshaw drivers who are basically wage-earners and struggle for making both ends meet every day.

Tragically, as many as 13 autorickshaw drivers died by suicide in just one month between December 24, 2023 and January 26, 2024. One common reason being suggested for the financial stress of the autorickshaw drivers is the launching of “Mahalakshmi” scheme meant for free bus ride for women passengers of Telangana.

Both in rural and urban areas, women used to depend on shared autorickshaw rides for their daily commute. A lot of women labourers, working women and mothers of children living in hostels were all travelling by autorickshaws. However, the Mahalakshmi scheme has directly impacted the lives of the autorickshaw drivers who strain every nerve of theirs to earn their daily bread. The finance scheme work on a daily repayment basis for higher interests. The loans taken by the autorickshaw drivers were not essentially to but the vehicles, but even for other purposes too.

Also Read: Auto-rickshaw drivers ask Rs 15,000 aid from Congress citing losses due to women travelling for free in buses

Two autorickshaw drivers in Nalgonda district died by suicide in the last two days. Eakula Upender, 24. an autorickshaw driver from Adavidevulapally village in Nalgonda district, ended his life on Wednesday night. Upender, who eked out a living to fend for his family through his autorickshaw driving consumed pesticide and died. The reason for his suicide is that he is reeling under severe financial stress and is unable to clear the finance he has taken for the three-wheeler. The finance company began mounting pressure on him and unable to bear the debt burden, Upender took the extreme step.

The Congress government's ‘Mahalakshmi’ scheme, aimed at empowering women by providing free bus rides, led to a severe impact on Upender’s livelihood. His income dwindled as fewer passengers opted for autorickshaw rides, plunging his family into a state of financial distress.

According to the driver's grieving mother, the deceased had struggled to sustain his livelihood since the implementation of the scheme, which provided free bus rides for women. She expressed anguish, stating that her son's livelihood had been severely impacted, ultimately leading to his death.

Also Read: Rahul Gandhi interacts with GHMC staff, gig workers, auto drivers on last day of Telangana campaign

Another autorickshaw driver Badla Mallesh of Ibrahimpatnam in Rang Reddy district jumped into Nagarjunasagar reservoir. According to sub-inspector Venkata Konda Reddy, the autorickshaw driver came to Nagarjunasagar three days ago and went to the dam spillway and jumped into the river in its downstream. Financial stress and differences with family members were stated to be the reasons for his death.

Apart from Upender and Mallesh, the other drivers who took their lives so far included:

  • Pendyala Saraiah, 50, (Dec. 14, 2023 - Govardhanagiri village of Akkannapet mandal in Siddipet district; cardiac arrest)
  • P Sathish Goud, 35, (Jan. 5, 2024 - B S Maktha in Somajiguda, Hyderabad; hanging)
  • Narsimha Goud (Jan. 6, Kuchanapalli village of Haveli Ghanpur mandal, Medak dt; cardiac arrest)
  • Lakshmi, 60, (same day; mother of Narsimha Goud upon learning about her son’s death; cardiac arrest)
  • Vemula Satya Narayana, 51, (Jan. 14; Meedikonda village of Station Ghanpur in Janagaon; cardiac arrest),
  • M Anil Kumar, 26, (Jan. 16: Bhayyalal Nagar of Lalitha Bagh in Chandrayangutta, Hyderabad; hanging),
  • Sk Hameed, 29, (Jan. 18; Mint Compund, Saifabad, Hyderabad, unknown reasons)
  • Akbar, 36, (Jan. 18, 24 Area, Yellandu, Bhadradri-Kothagudem dt; hanging)
  • Sk Gulam, 44, (Jan. 20, Gaggalapalli of Nagarkurnool); hanging)
  • Mudavath Rahul, 26, (Jan. 20; belongs to Kodangal; died in Rajendranagar, Ranga Reddy district; hanging),
  • Md. Sameer Pasha, 22, (Jan. 22; Madikonda of Hanamkonda dt; pesticide consumption)
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