Factory workers in India ‘who went unpaid for seven months’ attempt suicide in mass self-poisoning

·3-min read
All seven workers were reported to be in a stable condition, police officials said (AFP via Getty Images/Representative image)
All seven workers were reported to be in a stable condition, police officials said (AFP via Getty Images/Representative image)

Seven men attempted suicide at their work premises in central India after not being paid wages for seven months, said officials.

The seven workers were employed at a factory manufacturing parts of modular kitchen in central Madhya Pradesh state’s Indore city, and took poison together after being told they were being sent to another factory run by the same company, reported Indian daily The Indian Express.

Identified as Jamunadhar Vishwakarma, Deepak Singh, Rajesh Mameroniya, Devilal Karodiya, Ravi Karodiya, Jitendra Dhamiya and Shekar Verma, the men have been employed by the company for a period spanning two to 20 years, the report added.

All seven workers are now in a stable condition, police officials said.

Police said a preliminary probe confirmed the workers of the private company were not paid their wages regularly for the past seven months.

Mr Vishwakarma, one of the workers now out of danger, accused the company of wanting to throw the employees out of the job, but added that the officials were afraid to take the step openly.

He accused the firm’s owner of ignoring the attempts made by workers to engage them.

“The owner Ravi Bafna told us that you have to listen to what the HR says and do so. You cannot come to me. When we went to work today at the old factory, we were told there is no work for us. We know they’ll instead get workers from Delhi, Mumbai who have experience in the same field,” the worker told the Express.

Another employee of the firm said the seven men who attempted suicide were already being replaced by the company.

The seven workers were told there was no work at the factory just two days back, the worker said, but everyone resumed work on Wednesday as usual.

This shocked the seven workers who saw the factory was operating normally.

Police officials probing the suicide attempt said the workers had previously agreed to the transfer but protested on Wednesday by consuming poison. They were taken to a nearby hospital, where they were later declared out of danger.

“The employees had agreed… two days ago, but on Wednesday after reaching the factory around 11am in the morning, they protested against the transfer and then attempted suicide by eating a poisonous substance. They were taken to MY Hospital,” a police inspector was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

The factory owner said officials had sanctioned the transfer of the employees to a separate unit as the unit they were currently employed in was not in a good condition, according to him.

He added that the aggrieved workers’ statements were recorded by police.

Officials were also looking for CCTV footage as police was told the workers had attempted to vandalise the factory, the official added.

The factory owner, Mr Bafna, claimed to have been away when the workers swallowed a poisonous substance.

“Our firm produces wires and I was away when the security guard of our firm informed me that some workers have swallowed a poisonous substance. I rushed to the spot and saw their health was deteriorating and took them to the hospital,” Mr Bafna claimed.

He added that he was not aware of the exact grievance of the seven workers.

Government statistics for 2021 showed the largest surge in deaths by suicide was reported among those who are self employed and daily wagers in the country.

The rate of deaths by suicide across the country surged to its historic highest level last year, spiking by 11.52 per cent compared to 2020, when it had increased by 7.17 per cent. India also reported 120 deaths per million of its population.

Additionally, Madhya Pradesh reported the third highest number of suicides last year with a total 14,965 cases recorded with authorities, showed data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.