Will the death of this farmer lead to trouble for the AAP leadership? What are the implications if his death is confirmed as suicide?
By Shailendra Singh
The death of Rajasthan farmer Gajendra Singh during an AAP rally has put its leadership in a tight spot as various accusations are flying fast and thick over it. While other political parties have blamed the AAP leadership for continuing with their speeches even as Singh was found hanging from a tree, his family has asked for a CBI inquiry into the incident.
On the face of it, reports allege that there was laxity on the part of AAP workers. A police officer who was on duty at the rally venue, alleged that when AAP leaders were delivering speeches, he saw some people looking up at a tree and clapping. A man was perched on the tree, waiving a broom. He informed the control room and asked AAP workers and others not to instigate him and help bring him down. But no one cooperated and eventually, the man was found hanging from the tree.
If indeed the man was instigated to commit suicide, it falls within the ambit of Section 306 of the IPC, which provides punishment for abetment of suicide. This Section states: “If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.”
THE RULE BOOK
The police, it claims, also requested party workers not to climb the tree and to wait for the fire brigade to arrive. Again, no one paid heed and people climbed the tree, leading the man to fall to the ground. This could invite Section 186 of the IPC, which, read with Section 34 says that whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with both.
Gajendra Singh died even as attention was focussed on him
If Gajendra has indeed committed suicide like many others, the question to be asked is: Why do they do it? In 2012, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reported 13,754 farmer suicides. But the highest number of farmer suicides was in 2004 when it was 18,241. Farmer suicide rate in India has ranged between 1.4 to 1.8 per 1,00,000 population over a 10-year period starting 2005. According to NCRB , 46 farmers commit suicide every day in India. From 1995 till 2013, 2,96,438 farmers had killed themselves in India.
Acting on a PIL last year, the Supreme Court asked the center to take steps to prevent increasing farmer suicides across the country. The PIL also sought the apex court’s direction to the center to implement the recommendations of a report by the National Commission on Farmers, chaired by agriculture scientist MS Swaminathan in 2006 on farmer suicides.
PETITION ON SUICIDES
Citing various problems faced by farmers which compel them to take their life, the petition stated:
- Farmers are forced to buy seeds every planting season, which increases poverty and indebtedness, compelling them to commit suicide.
- Interest rate at which loans are given to the farmers is very high and they are not able to repay the same. As per the report, it should not be more than 4 percent. It also said that farmers do not know how to cope with the changing economy and need counseling from the government or society to survive it.
- Absence of counseling from the government or society on how to survive “changing economy” is also a reason for their suicides.
- There is no crop insurance and rural infrastructure is poor, particularly when it comes to harvest technology. Youth in villages are reluctant to continue with their ancestral occupation of agriculture because of the cost-risk-return structure.
While it is still not clear whether Gaj-endra Singh’s death was a planned stunt or a deliberate suicide attempt, the blame-game has already begun.