Tragic suicide in Madurai raises concerns over online gambling surge

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The body of Saravanan, a 56-year-old teacher hailing from Thirumangalam in Madurai district, was discovered on the railway tracks on the morning of 5th January. Investigations into the grim discovery revealed he was in financial distress and incurred losses due to online gambling.

Tamil Samayam reported that Saravanan worked as a teacher at a private CBSE school on Thirumangalam Airport Road, had reportedly taken to online rummy, leading to substantial financial losses amounting to Rs 8 lakh. Overwhelmed by the mounting debts, he chose to end his life by jumping in front of an oncoming train. He is survived by his wife, who also works as a teacher, and his son and daughter both adults and working professionals.

PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss expressed his condolences on social media, drawing attention to the broader implications of the incident. Anbumani criticised the revival of online gambling activities in Tamil Nadu following the Madras High Court’s ruling on November 10. The court ruled that the Prevention of Online Gambling Act, as passed by the Tamil Nadu Assembly, did not extend to talent-based games like rummy and poker.

Anbumani claimed that this law had emboldened online gambling companies to exploit the void, leading to a surge in their activities within the state. He reminded that his earlier warnings had been ignored and requested the Tamil Nadu government to appeal to the Supreme Court against the Madras High Court’s verdict to curb the damaging impact on citizens’ lives and finances.

Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Anbumani pointed to Saravanan’s tragic fate as a sad example of the online gambling epidemic gripping Tamil Nadu. He emphasised that without intervention, many more lives could be at risk.

Anbumani questioned whether the Tamil Nadu government had taken steps to challenge the Madras High Court ruling and insisted on transparency in communicating the measures adopted. He appealed to the Supreme Court to expedite the hearing of the appeal case, highlighting the need to shield the people of Tamil Nadu from the dangers of online gambling.