In a shocking incident, at least 11 physically challenged people were hospitalised here today for poisoning following an alleged suicide bid over an anti-encroachment drive. One person later died.
However, the Varanasi police are also investigating if the 11 were poisoned by someone else. “They could have been provided poison by some anti-social elements unhappy with the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in the city,” Varanasi Additional SP (City) A K Pandey said.
According to Dr S C Singh of Shiv Prasad Gupta District Hospital, the 11 seemed to have taken the sulphas pesticide. He added that the patients under his care were responding to medication.
One of the “victims” admitted to the district hospital, Satish, claimed the authorities left him with little choice when they removed his roadside stall in the Gurubagh area. “I used to earn about Rs 100 per day through my stall. One month back, it was removed” Satish said. He added that all the physically challenged persons who ran such stalls in the Gurubagh area then decided to commit suicide.
Another “victim”, Nasim, said it was a mass suicide bid. “My paan stall was my only source of income. I have four kids. What will I do now?” he said. Some time back, a delegation of physically challenged persons met the district administration seeking rehabilitation.