Farmer’s suicide: In damage control mode, Kejriwal apologises for making speech after incident

Delhi CM said farmer’s suicide has affected him deeply and he was unable to sleep

New Delhi: Two days after a farmer from Rajasthan hanged himself from a tree in full public gaze at an AAP rally in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday apologised for not calling off the event and admitted that his making a speech was a "mistake".

Under fire over his handling of the issue that has snowballed into a major controversy, the AAP supremo also slammed the media and the opposition parties, saying that the debate had veered away from the "real issue" of the farmers' plight.

"I was to deliver an hour long speech but I wrapped it up in 10-15 minutes. I think that was my mistake. Probably I should not have spoken. If that has hurt anyone's sentiments I would like to apologise.”

Read: Farmer Gajendra Singh cremated, politics on

"I am guilty. Blame me. I feel the rally should have been called off. But please focus on the real issue of the farmers and desist from politicking. Whoever is guilty hang him but the focus of the debate should be on why the farmers are committing suicide," Kejriwal told a news agency.

Seeking to play down his government's face-off with the Delhi Police over the probe of the incident, Kejriwal said he was even ready to file his statement to the police if needed.

"District Magistrate has the jurisdiction to investigate under the CrPC and the police does criminal investigation based on FIR...if police calls me I will go to file my statement," he said.

Read: Farmer suicide case: Gajendra Singh was not distressed, claims family

On Thursday, opposition members created ruckus in the Lok Sabha over the incident, leading to adjournment of proceedings even as the Centre said it was ready to discuss the matter.

Making his point against AAP, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said the crowd gathered for the rally "clapped" and "raised slogans" as the farmer Gajendra Singh climbed up the tree and ended his life, prompting the party to accuse Singh of "lying".

Many, including Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, sought a judicial probe to fix accountability, saying police are in a dock over the matter and they cannot probe themselves.

Read: Farmer who committed suicide at AAP rally had contested elections in 2003

A judicial probe, Kharge said, was necessary as Kejriwal and the Delhi police, which reports to the MHA, had offered conflicting versions of the event.

Former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit sought to remind Kejriwal that he was no longer in the opposition where he could indulge in "politics of dharna".

"As a chief minister his statements should be much more responsible rather indulging in blame game. Politicising someone's suicide or death is not right," she said.

Read: Farmer suicide at rally: When an Aam Aadmi ends life

Kejriwal also toned down the party's shrill attack on Delhi Police a day after AAP leaders sensed a "ploy" by the Centre to target the party using the forces, which they said did not act in spite of repeated requests from the stage at the rally.

"We should not say that all policemen are bad. Should not indulge in blame game. I believe if police had the slightest inkling they would have tried to save him. They must have genuinely thought nothing of that sort was taking place," he said.

AAP leader Sanjay Singh had said, "It is the Union government's ploy to target AAP using the Delhi Police... Media recorded the incident as it happened and should put out the tapes in public to establish the truth."

Read: Dead farmer's family aghast Kejriwal continued rally while their son hanged himself

The Chief Minister, who has earlier publicly denounced the land bill, underlined that the focus ought to be on preventing "forcible land acquisition", appropriate compensation for damaged crops as a "right" and implementation of Swaminathan committee recommendations.

"Whatever is happening for the last two days is not right. Don't tear the issue into pieces. It will get you TRPs but farmers won't get anything out of it.

"Delhi's farmers are happy with the compensation amount that I have declared," Kejriwal said.

Referring to the aftermath of the incident, that marred the AAP's rally against the contentious Bill, Kejriwal added, "I am saying this happened in front of the Delhi CM. I couldn't sleep the whole night."

Singh, a 42-year-old farmer, climbed a tree and hanged himself at the Aam Aadmi Rally held to oppose the central government's proposal to make it easier to buy farmland for development projects.

Read: After farmer’s suicide, BJP to change tack; may rethink on tabling Land Bill in Parliament

According to his family members, Singh was not a distressed farmer. Singh’s financial situation was not that bad as he did not suffer from major crop loss in the recent unseasonal rains.

Singh, whose suicide has sent shockwaves across the country, was cremated in his village on Thursday. The entire village was in shock and sorrow. His father, wife and children were inconsolable as the body arrived in the village. The father even went unconscious.

It has also emerged that Gajendra was not a poor farmer. He was an ambitious politician, who had contested elections too. There have been claims that the reason behind his suicide was a family feud.

The eldest of the three brothers, Gajendra who studied till class 12, was married with three children. While his daughter is a class 12 student, his two other boys are aged 7 and 10. Neither of them are aware that their father is dead.

Read: AAP leaders egged on suicide, didn’t allow us to rescue farmer, charges Delhi cops FIR

Gajendra, who has a well-maintained house and large farm holding, began his career in politics with his uncle Gopal Singh who was formerly a pradhan and sarpanch. Gajendra initially started with the BJP but when he failed to get the ticket in 2003 Assembly election he contested election on Samajwadi Party ticket, which he lost. He was district president and member of state executive of the SP. Before 2013 Assembly elections, he joined the Congress. When he was once again denied ticket, he became close to AAP.

Gajendra’s close family and relatives have blamed Arvind Kejriwal for Gajendra’s death. “He was hanging himself and they continued with the rally. If Kejriwal’s son was committing suicide would Kejriwal still have continued with his speech,” they asked.

Though AAP leaders did not attend the last rites of Gajendra Singh, it declared monetary assistance of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased farmer and promised to support his children’s education.

( Source : pti/dc )
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