Kill Yourself In Delhi, Dear Farmers, or Become Meaningless Statistics
23 April, 2015
Gajendra Singh is not the first farmer to kill himself. 601 others had killed themselves in Maharashtra alone since this January or onset of double Achche Din, or BJP regime, for the state. Before someone wants to jump the gun and dismiss the figure as ‘politics’ let me tell that it does not come from a rival political party or Bikau (easily purchasable) Media as Prime Minister Modi loves to refer to them when the mainstream media stops wagging its tail and get even mildly critical of him. The figure comes Maharashtra State Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Eknath Khadse himself. He added, of course, that only 3 of them are caused by crop failure. How does he know that? He knows that because remaining 598 farmers did not leave a suicide note! Very sensitive, isn’t he?
Gajendra Singh would not be the last farmer to kill himself either. A farmer has killed himself by jumping in front of a train in Alwar, in the same state he came from. Of course Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje did not tweet if prompt action could have saved his life or not, she did not have a Arvind Kejriwal to take the blame for her apathy for farmers she is oath bound to protect.
Please do not rush to conclude that the BJP is the only political party responsible for these suicides, murdrers disguised as suicides in fact. Congress has an equally ignominious record of letting farmers kill themselves. Congress may actually have presided over more than half of some 304,000 recorded farmers’ suicides across India since 1995. Like BJP, it has also ruled Maharashtra that comprises of Vidarbha, the epicenter of these suicides as well as Delhi when the dance of death was at its extreme after 2004.
Gajendra Singh’s death was unique in one respect though. It brought the agricultural crisis ensnaring the countryside straight to Delhi and shut the mouths of those in denial for once and all. It achieved what 601 others who had killed themselves in BJP ruled Maharashtra could not- a tweet from PM Modi himself. It is not a mean task if one recalls how tough it is to get one from Naseeb wala Pradhan Sevak (Lucky Prime Minister). It startled the upwardly mobile middle classes into silence- no, the protesters who used to come to Delhi did never come for dirtying the city and causing traffic jams; they came as they really were distressed. It made them realize that they were not ‘doing politics’ a euphemism for all that has gotten rotten in the republic.
Gajendra Singh’s suicide was unique in another respect as well. It exposed that ‘pretended good will’ does not actually mean a real concern for the people. It busted the myth of a juggernaut called Aam Admi Party much more fiercely than the fratricidal war raging within the party. It laid bare not merely there obsession with a single issue of financial corruption but also the real psyche of the people that run its show.
No, the conspiracy theory propagated by Somanth Bharti, one of its top leaders, was not an anguished and spontaneous reaction. Neither was the one offered by Ashutosh, I do not know why mere mention of his name reminds me of Kanshiram every time, who shamelessly asked if Arvind Kejriwal should have climbed up the tree to save Gajendra, happily forgetting that Kejriwal had actually climbed up electric polls during canvassing for Delhi assembly elections. Nor, finally was post facto defence offered by Sanjay Singh- that AAP leaderships’ intervention could have invoked AAP activists into a fight with the police. It exposed the hypocrisy that makes Kejriwal stop his speech for a Azaan call (don’t invent a sectarian angle in this, he is equally known for Ganga Snan to Poojas) but not a suicide. It exposed not merely one and the same on everything Congress and BJP but sectarianism (though Congress too has orchestrated riots/genocides but it does that opportunistically, not as its core ideology) but also criminal disdain for real Aam Admi’s life.
Gajendra’s death achieved something else as well, though not unknown to the people. He showed how the mainstream media, electronic one in particular, can sell anything, even a suicide on camera to defeat the rivals in TRP.
The real message from Gajendra Singh’s suicide, however, is much more sinister than all this. His tragic death exposes, once again, how the state has stopped to listen to non violent protests across the country. Think of even ten percent of 300,000 people picking up arms to protest injustices against them, and one would realize that this is not a small number. It is, in fact, almost 5 times the number of estimated armed hardcore cadre of CPI Maoist, ‘the single biggest internal threat to Indian state’ as per its own admission. Add to this the fact that no armed insurgency of India was born overnight; they all have had a latency period of years, even decades. But once they took center stage, they came to stay. One can merely hope that the state learns its lessons and learns them fast. It should as its track record in containing much smaller insurgencies would send shiver down the spine of anyone capable of estimating the extent of a countrywide peasant insurgency.
Till then, let’s thank Gajendra Singh even if what he did was the most unfortunate. He might not have thought about the plight it would cause not merely to his near and dear ones but also anyone who has even the faintest hint of a hope left in the delinquent democracy that masquerades as the largest one of the world. Let’s thank him for bringing the agricultural crisis center stage, something more than 300,000 deaths could not.
Gajendra Singh is dead, long live Gajendra Singh.
So, dear farmers, kill yourselves in Delhi, preferably in a political meeting of BJP this time, there's no point in committing suicide in Vidarbha or Bundelkhand and become part of yellowing pages of NCRB statistics.
Samar, Programme Coordinator, Right to Food, AHRC, Hong Kong.
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