Vodafone India, the second largest cell phone provider in the nation, is unhappy with the company’s recent bout of media attention. In particular, the activities of one couple in the city of Jabalpur, located in the state of Madhya Pradesh, has drawn a pall over the telecom’s advertising campaign as it attempts to gain ground on India’s leading mobile phone provider, Airtel. The media accounts detail a dispute between a husband and wife over the simple matter of the lack of pre-paid credits on his cell phone and how this resulted in a death.
Om Devi had been married to her husband, Gram Badkhera, for a little over eighteen months. According to their neighbors and her relatives, the relationship between the two had been rocky from the beginning. These individuals explained that Badkhera felt his wife should be more responsive to his needs and recognize that her loyalties were to him, not her parents and siblings. While the two could be heard yelling about these issues frequently during the first year of their marriage, the neighbors living above them noted that such arguments had subsided in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, Gram arrived home from a week-long business trip to Europe. Devi was not overly eager to see him, but she was excited to use his work mobile to call her family. In the account Badkhera gave to the police, his wife was dismayed when he informed her that he had used up all the credits during his business trip. Reflecting back on earlier issues in the marriage, Om believed that her husband had purposefully used up his credits so that she could not call her family and began leveling such accusations at him.
After exchanging a few unkind comments of his own at his wife, Gram went to a local restaurant to cool down. When he returned home two hours later, he found his wife dead. Apparently distraught over the phone situation, Devi took her own life. What made the story weird, and troubling to local authorities, was that Badkhera actually did have credits on his mobile and was able to call police to report the death. An investigation was opened, but the medical examiner concluded the death a suicide, resulting in an end to the investigation.