Debt burden drives Indian family to suicide

Four members of an Indian family mired in debt and under pressure from local money lenders to repay loans committed suicide in the western state of Gujarat, police said Monday.

A married couple and three of their children consumed poison on Sunday at their home in Bavla town, 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Gujarat's main city and commercial hub Ahmedabad.

"A woman and three children died immediately and the man was rushed to the hospital. He is still undergoing treatment," police officer A.Y. Bhaloch told AFP.

The couple were deeply in debt and lived on a small monthly income. According to police they had taken loans from several money lenders at very high interest rates to set up a business.

However when they were unable to repay 600,000 rupees ($10,000) the money lenders started harassing the couple.

The news of family suicide shocked the residents of Bavla, many of whom closed their businesses to mourn the deaths.

Police have registered a criminal case against six money lenders for abetting suicide.

More than half of India's 1.2 billion population is forced to turn to unscrupulous money lenders who charge exorbitant interest rates because many towns and villages have little access to banks.

str-rn/ami