Rajesh Kachi and Shravan Pathak were pulling Sushila Kelaji out of the waters yesterday, the 75-year-old was pleading with them to let her die. After being physically and mentally harassed by her sons and daughters-in-law, the woman tried to commit suicide by jumping into the river from Shivaji Bridge near Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) office. However, Kachi and Pathak spotted her and saved her life.
“I am a widow and my husband died 20 years ago. After that I started working as a domestic help and raised my two sons and two stepsons. They are now married and live apart. My sons and their wives consider me a burden and constantly badger me,” said Sushila with both anger and fear in her eyes.
She added that her husband, who was employed with the railway police, did not leave behind any money or property for her, and her sons and daughters-in-law treat her like an animal and do not even provide adequate food on time.
“I have been suffering from cataract and my eyesight is not good. However, alluding to increasing expenses, my younger son Rajesh, with whom I am currently staying, never takes me to the hospital. My elder son Vinayak who works in a medical shop too neglects me and never takes care of me,” she said.
Sushila said the two sons her husband had with his first wife have also severed all ties with her and never come to meet her.
“After the death of my husband, I raised all four of them by working as a domestic help. However, after getting married, they changed and started bullying me,” she said, adding, “Since I have nothing to give them, they feel I am not of any use and because of my advanced age and deteriorating health, they want me to go somewhere else,” she said.
Speaking about the decision of ending her life, she said that on Saturday she had had a quarrel with her younger son and his wife, and they even assaulted her, causing injuries to her hand. “After this, I decided that life wasn’t worth living anymore, and on Sunday afternoon I took a bus to Shivajinagar, got down at PMC headquarters, and plunged into the river from the bridge,” she said.
Kachi, who runs a bhurji stall near the bridge saw the woman taking the leap, and immediately jumped in, along with Pathak, managing to rescue the woman. “We took her to the Shivajinagar police chowkie, took the phone numbers of her younger son and daughter-in-law, and asked the police to summon them,” said Kachi.
When contacted, sub-inspector Ramdas Mundhe from the police chowkie said that after counselling and providing medical treatment to Sushila, she returned to her son and his wife, on the condition that they would not harass her in future. “We have taken a written statement from her son Rajesh and daughter-in-law Mrunal and have reprimanded them,” said Mundhe. No case has been lodged against Sushila.
Jyoti Pund, an officer from the senior citizen cell of the city police said that in such cases, they first try to counsel the person and if he or she is not willing to stay with his or her family, they try to shift the individual to some old age home. In this case, she said that if the woman is prepared, they can move her to somewhere she feels more comfortable.