On a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi presented a Rs 1 crore prize to a 20-year-old Latur woman for a digital transaction, another young woman from the district ended her life by jumping into a well as her father could not afford her marriage expenses, officials said.
The 21-year-old victim was Shital Vyankat Vayal, a resident of Bhise-Wagholi village, who had completed her Secondary School Certificate three years ago. Her death has added a whole new dimension to the ongoing socio-agrarian crisis gripping Maharashtra.
On Friday morning, Shital jumped into a well in her own farmland. But the real story emerged after a suicide note was recovered by her family.
In the note, she has recounted how her parents are very poor and did not have money to organise her marriage.
"I am ending my life to ease my father's financial burden and eliminate the practice of dowry in my Maratha-Kunbi community," said Vayal in simple but touching words, sending shockwaves in state political circles.
"Since the past five consecutive years, due to crop failure, our family's financial condition has become extremely delicate. Yet my two sisters were married off in a very modest manner," she wrote.
"For my marriage, my father has been making continuous efforts... but since no loans are available from moneylenders or banks, my marriage has been postponed for over two years," her note of anguish said.
"Hence, in order to ease the burden on my father, and to end the practice of 'devan-ghevan' (dowry) in the Maratha community, I am ending my life. My family and myself should not be accused in any manner," she said.
Villagers said that Shital had been getting many proposals for marriage, but the family declined them as they could not afford to raise money for the dowry and marriage expenses.
Barely hours after her death, in Nagpur, Modi felicitated electrical engineering student Shraddha Mengshete of Latur. She bagged the Rs 1 crore Mega Draw for Lucky Grahak Yojana for a Rs 1,590 transaction through her RuPay card to pay an EMI for her new mobile phone.
As the reasons behind Shital's death came out, top Congress leaders proceeded to visit her family on Saturday.
Nationalist Congress Party leader Ajit Pawar attacked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for not announcing a farm loan waiver package, which the opposition parties are demanding since long.
"He (Fadnavis) says it will be announced at an appropriate time... When will that time come?" demanded Pawar.
The Congress, NCP, and other opposition parties have launched the second phase of their ongoing 'Sangharsh Yatra' across Maharashtra from April 15 for the specific demand of writing off all farm loans on the lines of Uttar Pradesh.
The opposition parties had agitated during the entire budget session for the same amidst turmoil, suspensions of 19 Congress-NCP legislators (later revoked), processions and other forms of protest.
This is the second similar incident in the village where 18-year-old Mohini Bhise ended her life in January 2016, as her father couldn't afford to collect dowry for her marriage.
A brilliant student, Mohini hanged herself at home after penning a suicide note, questioning why the menace of dowry prevailed in her community despite a legal ban on it.