11 Questions You May Have About Gajendra Singh’s Dramatic Suicide

11 questions you may have about Gajendra Singh’s dramatic suicide at the AAP rally in Delhi. 

3 min read
Gajendra Singh moments before he hanged himself by his scarf from the tree. (Photo: PTI)

1. What happened:

Gajendra Singh, a farmer hailing from Rajasthan, hanged himself to death from a tree, in full presence of the Aam Aadmi Party top brass, including Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The police and the press were also at the venue.

2. Who Gajendra Singh was:

Gajendra Singh, a father of three children, was a farmer from Rajasthan. According to family members he had been disowned by his father after his family had suffered crop losses due to recent rains. He had been politically active as well, contesting elections in Rajasthan for the Samajwadi party in 2008 and 2013 but had been unsuccessful. According to members of his family he had been trying to reach out to the Aam Admi Party.

3. Did he leave behind a suicide note?

Volunteers attempted to cut Gajendra Singh down. (Photo: PTI)
Volunteers attempted to cut Gajendra Singh down. (Photo: PTI)

Yes. Gajendra Singh reportedly left behind a note in which he wrote that his father disowned him after his entire crop was lost. Singh also wrote that he couldn’t fend for his family including three children.

4. What is the controversy about?:

Other than the fact that a farmer was desperate enough to commit suicide in front of politicians and the press, questions were asked as to:

- Why nobody tried to rescue him.

- Why the Aam Aadmi Party didn’t stop the rally.

5. What the controversy should have been about:

Why political parties tried to score political points.

6. Did parties try to score points?

Yes. Aam Admi Party’s Somnath Bharti first called it a ‘conspiracy’. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal blamed the Delhi police. The Congress and the BJP slammed the AAP for continuing the rally.

7. So why didn’t anyone stop Singh from hanging himself?

Probably because they didn’t take him seriously. People climbing trees during rallies are a common sight. Unconfirmed reports indicate that those at the rally didn’t realise Gajendra Singh was going to kill himself. They watched with incredulity and disbelief as he actually did it.

Screenshot from Headlines Today at about 3:30 pm.
Screenshot from Headlines Today at about 3:30 pm.

8. Did cameras capture his death, and if so, why didn’t they stop him?

Yes, video cameras captured his death. We don’t yet know why members of the media along with the police and AAP volunteers didn’t stop him. Sadly, this is not the first time the members of the press have filmed an incident instead of helping out.

9. Should we then ignore it as a freak occurrence?

No. People have died during rallies in the past, mostly due to stampedes. Yet, it seems like the government, the administration and the police haven’t come up with a plan to spot danger. Volunteers of political parties and the media too need to be alert.

10. Will Singh’s suicide take the focus away from farmers’ woes?

Yes and no. In the first 24 hours, the manner of Singh’s death, the seeming indifference of the AAP, the politics of the Congress and the BJP, the role of the police and the media will take centrestage.

The bitter truth is that most suicides don’t grab the headlines because they happen away from cities.

Gajendra Singh’s dramatic suicide should guarantee however that the spotlight will settle on the desperation of India’s farmers, many of whom have already committed suicide this year. Also expect Singh’s suicide to take the focus away from the politics of farmer suicides.

Screenshot from Headlines Today at about 3:30pm
Screenshot from Headlines Today at about 3:30pm

11. Why does this sound familiar?

The 2010 satirical film Peepli Live dealt with the issue of a farmer committing suicide in front of television cameras. Gajendra Singh’s suicide inverts the line attributed to Karl Marx, ‘history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce’.

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