A Sikh priest from a gurdwara in Karnal district of Haryana, identified as Sant Baba Ram Singh (65), reportedly shot himself at Kundli, near the Singhu border where farmers have been protesting for the past 20 days, on Wednesday.
In a purported suicide note, Singh, also known as Nanaksar Singhra Wale, said he was pained by the plight of farmers.
While Singh is reported to have shot himself with his licensed revolver, Kundli police station SHO Ravi Kumar said they were yet to ascertain the weapon used. “His associates have given a statement to the police that he died by suicide. Our probe is on,” he said.
The purported suicide note, written in Gurmukhi, says: “I saw the anguish of the farmers. They are suffering on the roads to get their rights. My heart was very pained at this. The government is not doing justice. This is injustice. Oppressing someone is a sin; tolerating oppression is also a sin. People have shown their solidarity with the farmers, and their anger against this injustice, in various ways. Some have returned their awards to express their anger. I am taking my life in support of the farmers, and against the atrocities of the government. This is a voice against injustice. This is a voice in support of the hard-working farmers.”
The body was taken to Karnal for a postmortem examination. Officials said it will later be taken to the Nanaksar Gurdwara in Singhra village, where a large number of his followers have gathered. The last rites are set to be held on Friday.
Karnal SP Ganga Ram Punia told PTI that police have been deployed in the area. “The situation is peaceful and under control,” he said.
Haryana BKU spokesperson Rakesh Bains told The Indian Express that Singh and his supporters had been supporting the farmers’ protest, and had distributed blankets too.
A villager, Karamjeet Virk, said Singh had moved to the gurdwara in Singhra village from a gurdwara in Jagraon, in Punjab, in the early 1990s. “He was a religious man and did not opt for married life,” he said.
In Singhu, farmer leaders extended their condolences to Singh’s family.
In a video clip, Akali spokesperson and president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, said: “He was a great man who devoted his life to the cause of people… I appeal to everyone to remain calm since some can use this to cause mischief.”
Pal from the BKU said: “Earlier today, we came to know about his death. We also came across a letter in which he said he could not bear the pain of the farmers. It is true that many people come here and they may be moved by what they see, and the way this government is treating them. We are saddened by the death and extend our condolences to the family.”
“My condolences and tribute in this hour of grief. Many farmers have sacrificed their lives. The brutality of the Modi government has crossed all limits. Quit stubbornness and immediately withdraw the anti-agricultural law,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said he was anguished to hear about the suicide. “Sant ji’s sacrifice won’t be allowed to go in vain. I urge GOI not to let the situation deteriorate any further & repeal the 3 agri laws,” he tweeted.
With inputs from Amil Bhatnagar, New Delhi