A 41-year-old farmer from Dausa in Rajasthan hanged himself before more than a thousand people at a kisan rally called by the Aam Aadmi Party to protest against the land acquisition Bill, in Jantar Mantar on Wednesday. The incident triggered a political slugfest as party leaders — from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who addressed the rally, to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi — rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where the farmer was declared dead.
Gajendra Singh, climbed the tree, with a broom in hand, at around 1 pm and remained there for about half-an-hour even as the crowd standing below and the AAP leaders on the stage urged him to come down. The seriousness of the situation became clear when Singh tied a piece of cloth around his neck, wrapping the other end around a branch of the tree. It was another 25 minutes before he was brought down by AAP volunteers and rushed to hospital.
In the minutes before he hanged himself, Singh threw down a note, written in Hindi, which said that he was 41 years old, from Nangal Jhamarwara village in Dausa, had three children, and had been thrown out of his house by his father because his crops had failed. “Give me a solution so I can return home,” said the letter, ending with, “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan.”
“He was brought to emergency by police personnel… There was no pulse, blood pressure or pupil movement. We tried resuscitation measures but it was clear that it was too late,” said a senior hospital official.
It did not take long for the politics to begin. Former Delhi Minister and AAP MLA Somnath Bharti alleged a “conspiracy”, while the Congress demanded an FIR against both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Farmers sud unite to defeat anti farmer Modi govt.Gather at Jantar Mantar/raise our voice,sud not let Modi to make land Acquisition Bill.
— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) April 22, 2015
The BJP accused the AAP of being “insensitive” as, in the minutes after Singh was taken to hospital, party leaders including Kejriwal, Sanjay Singh and Manish Sisodia went on to address the crowd, even after Kumar Vishwas announced that the farmer had been declared dead by hospital authorities, and read out his suicide note.
“What upsets me most is that we kept asking the police to act, but they did nothing. We know that the Delhi Police is not in our control. But you must have some humanity. You must at least be under God’s control. The first thing I and Manish Sisodia will do is to go to the hospital,” Kejriwal told the crowd.
Other AAP leaders were also quick to deflect blame. “Disturbing and shocked to see young man attempting to commit suicide by hanging from the tree. It seems to be a well-thought conspiracy,” tweeted Bharti.
“Gajendra’s death has saddened the nation. We are deeply shattered and disappointed. Condolences to his family… At no point must the hardworking farmer think he is alone. We are all together in creating a better tomorrow for the farmers of India,” tweeted Modi.
Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken were among the first to arrive at the hospital, followed by AAP’s Kejriwal, Sisodia and Bharti, Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay and CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury.
“It is a very sad time. I just want to tell the farmers and labourers not to worry. We will help them… I had earlier said that the farmers are being punished by the Modi government. I had said that they only help industrialists. This is causing tremendous pain to the farmers of the country. This is sad. But we will do whatever we can for the farmers. We are going to fight the land ordinance,” said Rahul.
The Congress demanded FIRs against Modi and Kejriwal, holding them “most responsible” for the suicide. “A case of abetment of suicide should be lodged against the central government and the state government… The two persons who can be held most responsible for the suicide are Prime Minister Modi and Chief Minister Kejriwal,” said party spokesperson Satyavrat Chaturvedi.
“The incident shows the extreme distress faced by farmers. The Modi government should defer the land acquisition Bill and concentrate on addressing the immediate problems of farmers whose crops have been destroyed by unseasonal rain,” said CPI leader D Raja.
Upadhyay said the incident, in the presence of the CM and the entire AAP leadership, was a reflection of the AAP’s inhuman and insensitive approach towards farmers. Asking the Delhi government to give Rs 5 crore as compensation to the farmer’s family, he announced plans to protest outside Kejriwal’s office on Thursday.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who spoke to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi, ordered a probe into the incident. “The incident is highly unfortunate. Our inquest proceedings are on. I won’t comment on any allegations, our department is working well. The joint commissioner of police will look into all aspects of the matter,” said Bassi.
A senior police officer said the PCR received a call on the incident at 2:06 pm. The call was made by a constable, Vinod, who was passing by. “At around 2 pm… I was passing the Jantar Mantar area when I saw a man hanging from a tree while some people were trying to bring him down,” said Vinod. “I made a PCR call and informed the police. I and my colleagues then asked some Quick Response Team officials to take him to hospital,” he added.
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