Orphaned infants

Print edition : March 08, 2013

Jasuben, widow of Devayar Hadhabhai Dangar Ahir, with her son, Gopal, and mother-in-law. Photo: ANUPAMA KATAKAM

SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD Hadhabhai Ahir can barely walk. He slowly shuffles into his home in Viramdad village in Jamnagar district and brings out a huge sheaf of bills and a bank book to show the debt build-up and why his son Devayar took his own life. “I try to help out in the fields with my other two sons but we have divided the land so I have to do the work of the son who died.”

Devayar Hadhabhai Dangar Ahir died in April 2009 after consuming poison tablets. His wife, Jasuben, says he seemed depressed as their loan amount had gone up to Rs.70,000. They own two hectares of land, which produced good cotton. However, untimely rains for two consecutive years had ruined the crop. The costs had mounted and Devayar did not have any other means to pay back the loan. He ended his life, leaving a 26-year-old wife, a two-month-old boy and a six-year-old girl to fend for themselves.

“No one has come to help us even though the police report said death due to crop failure. We still have loans. We don’t know what to do or how to claim anything. There is no one to help us. Not even the politicians came here, even during election time,” says Jasuben. “It is like we don’t exist.” She says, “I can never remarry. My children will not know a father and I will eventually also have to look after my in-laws. Unless the land yields something next year, we will all die of hunger.”

Anupama Katakam