A veteran journalist in Chennai has on Sunday committed suicide amid the allegations being surfaced around his employer over non-payment of salaries. The news of his demise had shocked the media fraternity across the nation and the event has thrown more light on the allegations of a flawed salary disbursement by the news houses. Several journos have paid tributes to the departed soul.
56-year-old Kumar had been working as a photojournalist and bureau head of the news agency United News of India (UNI) in Chennai. He was found dead in his office by a colleague on the evening hours of Sunday in the midst of allegations around UNI that it is not releasing salaries for the employees on time. It has been suspected that he had committed suicide owing to financial distress.
According to reports, Kumar was not paid properly by UNI for 60 months and his demise has sparked a national debate as it has been alleged that hundreds of employees of UNI have not been receiving their entire salaries each month. They receive in instalments and after bracing up the outraging salary system, he has taken an extreme step of ending his life.
In a tweet, a senior journalist has revealed that UNI is getting approximately Rs 6 lakh revenue from the Tamil Nadu bureau and it is one of the best-paid states for UNI. Following Kumar's demise, the UNI All- India Employees Front release a statement on Monday evening in which it has admitted that there is a flawed salary structure in the organization.
In the statement, the Employees Front said, "We have learnt that Mr Kumar's wife had met with an accident a few months ago and he had applied for an amount of at least Rs 1 lakh against his pending dues for her treatment. However, he was sent a paltry sum of only Rs 25,000. Also, Mr Kumar's daughter's engagement was scheduled to be solemnised next week and it is learnt that he had applied for Rs 5 lakh for the same, but the management was yet to respond".
"There is a backlog of 60 months of salaries, yet the management's callous attitude toward the dire crisis of the employees is unchanged. This month itself, a decision has been taken to stop payment of Rs 10,000 against the pending statutory gratuity, pending salaries, and other legal dues payable to former employees", the Employees Front has added as it has condemned the management and demanded an inquiry in the events leading to Kumar's death and said that strict action must be taken against those who found responsible for abetting the suicide.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin has released a statement on Monday in which he said, "I am deeply saddened to hear that senior photojournalist and Chennai Bureau chief of UNI has taken his own life. I extend my condolences to his family and the journalist community." Kumar was survived by his wife, daughter, and son.