Too close to home: Rajasthan farmer commits suicide at AAP’s land bill rally in Delhi

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New Delhi: A farmer from Rajasthan on Monday committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in full public view in the presence of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at an Aam Aadmi Party rally even as appeals from those around to desist from taking the extreme step had fallen on deaf ears.

AAP leaders accused the police of being mute spectators and did nothing to save a precious life.

Gajendra Singh, a father of three from Dausa in Rajasthan, climbed a neem tree in Jantar Mantar, a stone’s throw away from Parliament, the venue of anti-land bill rally, climbed a tree, put his ‘gamcha’ (towel) around his neck and also tied it to a branch.

In a bid to apparently draw attention to the plight of farmers who have suffered losses in the recent rains, he was seen raising slogans. AAP volunteers shouted and appealed to him to come down. A couple of them even climbed the tree and tried to bring him down by undoing the knot.

But before they could access him, Singh tied himself to a branch and his body could be seen hanging still. When the volunteers reached him and started untying the knot from the branch, it fell.

AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who was addressing the rally had appealed him to come down and asked the police to rescue him. He was joined by another leader Sanjay Singh.

After volunteers rushed him to the nearby Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, the rally went ahead and the Chief Minister addressed the gathering. When he wound up his address, he said he was going to the hospital to meet Singh.

Gajendra Singh, a resident of Nangal Jhamarwada village in Dausa, left a suicide note written in Hindi stating that he has three children and had been disowned by his father after their crops were destroyed in last month’s rains and hailstorm.

He also mentioned in the suicide note that he had nothing to look forward to in life. He ended the note with “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Rajasthan”. The phone numbers of his family were also scribbled on the piece of paper.

RML doctors tried to revive him but shortly later declared him “brought dead”. Dr Sunil Saxena said, “The farmer was brought dead.” AAP leaders alleged that it was an attempt to “sabotage” the rally and accused the police of being “mute spectators”.

His body was later sent to Lady Hardinge Hospital for postmortem. Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Delhi Police Commissioner B S Bassi and ordered a probe into the incident.

Kejriwal slammed the police for not being able to stop the farmer who attempted suicide before his speech. The AAP chief began his speech after the farmer was taken to the hospital, when it was still not clear whether he had died. “He climbed the tree in front of our eyes. We kept alerting the police about it. They should have had the humanity to save the farmer,” Kejriwal said at the beginning of his speech, adding, “This farmer has got the entire nation’s attention. We are here for him.”

In his speech, Kejriwal criticised the Modi government over the controversial land acquisition bill. “Farmers and the poor had put their faith in Modi sarkar and voted for them. But now they feel this is a government for the super-ameer.”

“All farmers are against this land bill. So are many political parties. What was the emergency to bring about this bill, if not to help the super-rich?” Kejrwial told those gathered at Jantar Mantar. “All farmers of the nation should now come together. We will not allow land to be taken away from those in Delhi without their consent,” Kejriwal said.

AAP has joined the growing chorus against the land bill after Congress’ Rahul Gandhi made an impassioned speech in Parliament two days ago trashing the bill.

Kejriwal visited the hospital after his speech, and so did Rahul Gandhi. Home Minister Rajnath Singh has ordered a probe into the suicide. There were protests too outside the hospital after it got out that the man had died.

NDA has faced stiff opposition over the Land Acquisition Bill in Parliament’s Budget Session. The Opposition has accused the Narendra Modi government of trying to bulldoze the bill in Parliament.

The Prime Minister has also come under criticism for trying to take the ordinance route to get the bill passed after it faltered earlier in the House.

The NDA needs to get it passed in this session to avoid the ordinance from lapsing.

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