Horror of farm suicide visits Delhi

Volunteers try to save Gajendra Singh (left) after he hanged himself from a tree at the AAP’s rally in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, on Wednesday. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

The distress suffered by farmers as the agrarian crisis deepens across the country found sad expression here on Wednesday when a 40-year-old farmer from Rajasthan committed suicide at a political rally organised by the Aam Aadmi Party against the Modi government’s land acquisition ordinance.

The death sparked a frantic round of political sparring in the middle of a national debate on the government’s “anti-farmer” policies. Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a statement, Home Minister Rajnath Singh ordered an investigation and several political leaders, including Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi, visited the hospital where the body of the deceased, Gajendra Singh from Dausa district, was taken.

In a purported suicide note, Mr. Singh, a father of three, said unseasonal rain had damaged his crops, and hence, his father had thrown him out of the house.

As the AAP rally was on, he climbed a tree not far from the stage where Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was addressing the crowd, waving a broom, the party symbol.

Around 2 p.m., Mr. Singh tied a white stole ( Gamchha) around his neck and with one end of the cloth tied to a branch, jumped. Pandemonium ensued as he hung lifeless and AAP volunteers frantically tried to bring the body down. He was rushed to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Mr. Modi tweeted: “Farmer Gajendra’s death has saddened the nation, we are deeply shattered and disappointed. 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.”

Minutes after the suicide, political parties got into a blame game. The AAP and the Bharatiya Janata Party blamed each other for being responsible for the suicide. The BJP accused the AAP of doing nothing to stop the suicide and continuing the rally after the body was taken to hospital. The AAP shifted the blame on to the Delhi Police, which is under the control of the Union government, saying the personnel remained “mute spectators.”

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said the Modi government was punishing the farmers. “I just want to tell the farmers we are with them, and they should not feel scared at all. It is a very sad incident, and so I have not come here to do politics. All this has happened because of the [land acquisition] ordinance that has been brought by the BJP government,” he said.

Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, said it was a sign of how deep the agrarian crisis in the country was and how unhappy the farmers were.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2021 10:48:44 AM |

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