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Kingfisher wife suicide

New Delhi, Oct. 4: Susmita Chakraborty, wife of an employee of the crisis-hit Kingfisher Airlines, allegedly committed suicide at her Delhi flat this afternoon citing financial stress because her husband wasn’t being paid his salary.

Susmita, 45, “has left a suicide note in Bengali in which she cited her family’s poor financial condition as the reason for taking the extreme step”, additional commissioner A.K. Ojha said.

“In the note she stated that her husband”, Kingfisher technician Manas Chakraborty, 53, “was not getting his salary for the past 4-5 months”, Ojha added. “She was also afraid that the company might close down owing to its financial crisis.”

Kingfisher, grappling with an employee strike over non-payment of the past seven months’ salaries, has been forced to shut down flight operations since Monday. It tonight extended the partial lockout till October 12 after talks with employees failed.

The government has directed the Vijay Mallya-owned private carrier to pay its employees.

Manas, a retired Air Force official, has been working with the airline for the past few years. The couple’s only son is studying BTech in Assam. “In the note, she praised her husband and son for being very caring and (said) she loved them a lot,” a police officer said.

Susmita was found hanging from the ceiling at the end of her dupatta at the family’s home in Mangolpuri around 1.30pm, the police said. She was declared dead on arrival at a hospital.

About 100 Kingfisher employees, including engineers and pilots, held a candlelight march in Mumbai from the domestic airport to Kingfisher House to mourn for Susmita.

The government has taken a firm stand on the crisis, saying the airline must get the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation’s permission if it wants to fly.

The beleaguered airline received a measure of reprieve today with bankers agreeing to release funds from escrow accounts, which is likely to release up to Rs 60 crore. The airline announced in the National Stock Exchange that its company secretary, Bharath Raghavan, had left the carrier.

CEO Sanjay Agarwal and executive vice-president Hitesh Patel today met the airline’s Delhi-based staff to try to persuade them to rejoin work.

Sources said the management offered the March salary and promised to pay the remaining six months’ salary once the airline was re-capitalised, but the employees rejected this for the second time in two days.