In a shocking incident, 37-year-old Mohammad Dilshad committed suicide by first slashing his wrists and then hanging himself to death at his residence in Bangarh village in Himachal's Una district on April 5.
After Dilshad returned from quarantine, the villagers still suspected him of being infected with COVID-19. They had seen him offer lift to two Muslims who were alleged to have attended the Tablighi Jamaat meet in Delhi's Nizamuddin.
Speaking about the ride given to Tabhligi members, Dilshad's uncle, Dilawar Khan said, "A maulvi from the area called him and asked him to help a few guys out. They wanted to spend the night at the mosque in the village but were told that that would not be possible due to the lockdown. So then the maulvi said that all we could do was drop them on the highway or elsewhere."
Dilshad had admitted himself in the hospital after repeated doubts and taunts from the villagers.
Three days after he was admitted, his reports showed that Dilshad had tested negative for the virus and the very next day he ended his life. Even after the test results were negative, the villagers had stopped purchasing milk from his sister's shop in the village.
While preparing for his funeral, Dilshad's family recovered a notepad lying in his cupboard in which he wrote his last words before committing suicide. The note read: "I'm no one's enemy."
Talking about the incident, Bangarh village sarpanch Parmila Devi's husband, Arun Kumar, said: "After the lockdown had been announced and it was being strictly enforced in the village, Dilshad had taken two people on his scooter and helped them on their way out of the village. Upon seeing that, people in the village grew paranoid and suspicious as they saw him with these unknown people. They were scared and called the police."
Dilshad admitted that he helped two men, who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi, cross the village to reach their home in Bilaspur, Kumar said.
Dilshad used to sell chicken to support his large family. His father died nearly 10 years ago of a heart attack. He got married his seven sisters married before settling down in Bangarh village with his family.
This is not the first incident where a person took away his life due to a social stigma. Several such incidents have been reported from Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Uttarakhand where individuals reportedly committed suicide as they were unable to cope with the social boycott and the stigma surrounding COVID-19.