Farmer suicide: Tragic twist to land battle
The battle of political parties to project themselves as farmers’ champions took a dramatic turn on Wednesday as a farmer from Rajasthan committed suicide in full public glare during a rally of Aam Aadmi Party organised to protest the land acquisition policy of BJP lead National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government. In his suicide note the farmer has blamed the complete destruction of his crop as the main reason for his extreme step.
“My father expelled me from home as my crop was destroyed. I have three kids. Tell me the way to return home. Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan,” said the farmer in his suicide note. The farmer identified as Gajendra Singh from Dausa in Rajasthan climbed a Neem tree during the rally at Jantar Mantar, was seen raising slogans and then hanged himself before being rescued by Aam Aadmi Party volunteers. AAP leader Kumar Vishwas, who was addressing the rally had appealed to him to come down and asked the police to rescue him. He was joined by another leader Sanjay Singh. But it was of no avail.
Speaking at the rally, after Gajendra Singh was taken to the hospital, AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accused the NDA government of being anti-farmer.
Addressing a pro-farmer rally against the Land Bill at Jantar Mantar, Kejriwal said the Land Ordinance has been brought in for rich people. Saying that Ordinances are meant for emergencies, he asked what was the need for an Ordinance on Land Bill. The AAP Convenor said he will not let land to be taken away from farmers in Delhi without their consent.
Later in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences on the farmer’s demise. “Gajendra’s death has saddened the nation. We are deeply shattered and disappointed. Condolences to his family,” he said in a tweet while referring to the suicide.
“At no point must the hard-working farmer think he is alone. We are all together in creating a better tomorrow for the farmers of India,” said the Prime Minister. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has ordered Delhi police to conduct an inquiry into the matter.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, however, was a little guarded when he said he did not wish to make any statements in “this hour of grief” but assured the farmers that his party would stand strongly behind them and will not allow anyone to take away their land. He also asked Youth Congress workers to help transport the farmer’s body to his home town.
Describing the incident as “sad”, CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury said it was a sign of how deep the agrarian crisis in the country was and how unhappy the farmers were, and advised the government to think about it.
AAP, however, cried “sabotage” and accused the police of being ‘mute spectators’ to the tragedy. “We kept asking the police to bring him down. Police may not be in our control but at least there should be a semblance of humanity among them,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Under fire over the land acquisition bill in Parliament and outside, BJP slammed Kejriwal for continuing with his speech at the rally even as the tragedy unfolded. “You (Kejriwal) knew very well that when poor Gajendra Singh jumped from the tree he had committed suicide. Still you did not decide to keep quiet but tried to score those political brownie points,” said BJP spokesman Sambit Patra.