A bitcoin trader, named Bharat Patel, in India committed suicide on Sunday, after being threatened by senior officers in the Indian police for whom he was trading crypto assets. The deceased also left a note addressed to his wife. A local news publication in India, broke the story about Patel who belonged to the Indian state of Gujrat.
Patel named two high ranking police officials in his suicide note. The duo, who are brothers, had bought five bitcoins through Patel during the crypto boom. However, due to the recent fall in the price of bitcoin, their investment took a hit. They blamed it on Patel. The deceased wrote that they were now demanding an equivalent price to their initial investment and asking for 11.575 bitcoins which he was in no condition of paying out. He said that he was facing threats from these guys due to which he was committing suicide. He held them responsible for his suicide.
The suicide note reads:
“DySP [Deputy Superintendent] Chirag Savani had come to my house to invest in five bitcoins. After incurring a loss due to slide in their value, Chirag and his brother Montu [Harnish] were demanding 11.575 bitcoins. I am distraught due to the recovery they are claiming. My life is not worth living. DySP Chirag Savani came to my house and threatened me to return the amount they had invested. I have been forced to commit suicide. The two brothers (Chirag and Harnish Savani) are responsible for my actions.”
The deceased’s family is also being pressurized by the alleged duo. The daughter of the deceased said that they had received calls from them. However, they have been advised by the police not to take any calls. The daughter also told media that she wants justice for her father. While talking to Ahmedabad Mirror, she said:
The DySP threatened that if he was not returned his money with interest, he would come to our house and not leave until he is paid.
Is Bitcoin Volatility to Blame Suicide?
Bitcoin reached a peak in December 2017 when the price of one bitcoin reached almost $19,500. Since then the bitcoin saw a significant slide in its value till recently when the digital asset soared to $8,000. The volatility of bitcoin has been a real deal breaker for many investors. Just recently, BlockPublisher reported when the European Central bank called the crypto more volatile than oil and gold.
Over the last two years, the historical volatility of crypto-assets dwarfed not only the volatility of the diversified European stock and bond markets but also that of the more volatile oil and gold prices, highlighting the market risk that crypto-asset investors are subject to.
While the suicide was not triggered by the volatility of bitcoin directly, it did play some role in the threats made by the alleged intimidators, which directly led to the Patel’s suicide. Volatility in price has made it hard for bitcoin to penetrate the mainstream. Governments and financial regulatory authorities always cite volatility as one of the reasons why they snub bitcoin. The governor of France’s state bank once warned the French investors to stay away from bitcoin in a statement. He stated:
Bitcoin is in no way a currency or even a cryptocurrency. It is a speculative asset. Its value and extreme volatility have no economic basis, and they are nobody’s responsibility. The Banque of France reminds those investing in bitcoin that they do so entirely at their own risk.
India’s Crypto Landscape
India accounts for less than 2% of the world’s total crypto market even though the country has more than one-eighth of the world’s population. The investors have been adversely affected due to a lack of support by their government which seems bent on banning cryptocurrency in India. It is expected that the country will ban crypto as soon as the ongoing elections in the country are over. The government announced just last month that they had circulated the Banning of Cryptocurrencies and Regulation of Official Digital Currencies Bill 2019 in different governmental departments. The law was drafted by an inter-ministerial committee that was headed by Subash Chandra, Finance Secretary of India, a person known for his anti-crypto remarks. In 2017, he weighed in on crypto and bitcoin in a tweet:
Cryptocurrencies like bitcoins are neither currency nor coin. Not legal tender in India at all. Trade in these currencies has assumed the character of classical Ponzi schemes. Limited supply and uninformed demand makes every new investor assume higher risk. No underlying real value.