Janak Raj Aggarwal, 55, had a cycle repair shop in Dhanaula village of Punjab’s Barnala district where he used to repair punctured tyres of almost all vehicles, be it a car, cycle, scooter or even a tractor. Hence, he, alongwith three other tractor repair mechanics of that area decided to provide their services free of cost to the farmers participating in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ protest.
All of them reached the Tikri border in a car offered to them by a Good Samaritan from Barnala, on Saturday evening, to start repairing damaged tractors. Janak Raj had come as a helper and slept in the same car. At around 12.30 am Sunday, the car caught fire. Farmers tried their best to save him but couldn’t, said Jaswinder Singh Longowal, state committee member of BKU (Ugrahan), speaking to The Indian Express.
Harinder Kaur Bindu, women leader of BKU (Ugrahan), said, “They reached at around 8 pm on Saturday and after having dinner, they serviced one tractor. Janak got tired because of his age and he went to sleep by 11.30 pm and the rest were still repairing the second tractor when they saw fumes coming from the car at about 12.30 am. Though the window panes which got locked due to central locking were broken, Janak was declared dead when rushed to a nearby hospital.”
Police said they inspected the spot and don’t suspect foul play. His family said Raj, who supported the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), left for Delhi two days ago with his farmer friends.
Superintendent of Police (Jhajjar) Rajesh Duggal said, “His friends told us they stopped at Bahadurgarh at 11.30 pm as one of their tractors needed to be repaired. After some time, Raj went to sleep inside his Swift car. Around 1.30 am, the car caught fire and the man died in his sleep.”
“Many tractors sustained damaged tyres because on the way, in Haryana, sharp nails were placed on the roads. He was a great help. He volunteered his services despite the fact that he was just hand to mouth. He was not even a farmer, but still wanted to help this farmer agitation in his own way,” said Bindu.
Sehal Aggarwal, Janak’s 24-year-old son, who was at Dhanaula in his house, said, “My father often used to be part of farmers’ agitation since October 1. He was always ready to provide his services in whatever manner he could.”
Jarnail Singh Jawandapindi, BKU Ugrahan leader, said, “Janak Raj was my close friend and he had been helping us since long. We have kept the body in Bahadurgarh Civil Hospital, will get post-mortem done. We have demanded Rs 20 lakh compensation from Centre, a job to a family member and loan waiver if any. The same demands have been sent across to Punjab Government.”
Raj’s wife Urmila Devi and son Sahil also reiterated the demands. “I have done a BA, B.Ed and I am planning to appear for master cadre exams… I am unemployed as of now; we have no source of income.”
(Inputs from ENS New Delhi, Jhajjar)