A police constable who was an eyewitness to farmer Gajendra Singh’s death at an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally in Delhi on Wednesday said it seemed more like an accident than a suicide. The constable’s version stands in contrast to that of another Delhi Police inspector, who filed the FIR in the case and accused AAP volunteers of instigating the farmer.
“It seemed like a show and maybe that is the reason why the crowd failed to realise that the man had died. For a good one hour, Singh was on top of the tree shouting slogans. He was brushing his moustache and waving at people to grab attention. It was just a gimmick that went wrong,” said the constable.
The constable who was managing the crowd said AAP volunteers had directed them not to interact or control the crowd.
“A few times we tried to get him and others who were sitting on trees to come down but volunteers asked us not to interfere. But there was nothing unusual in people climbing trees to get an uninterrupted view of the stage. All through, he was calling out to the organisers to let him speak about something,” he added. He said as Singh climbed the tree and tied his towel around the branch, members of the crowd cheered him saying, “Tie the knot tighter”.
According to the constable, the motive was to only entertain the crowd but everything changed when he lost control and slipped to his death.
“We did not realise that he had hanged himself because from far away it seemed like he was standing on the branches, supporting his body. It was only after organisers on the stage shouted, that people realised something was wrong,” the official said.
But, another Delhi Police inspector has accused AAP leaders and party volunteers of instigating the farmer Singh to commit suicide.
Describing the sequence of events, the inspector who was on duty at Jantar Mantar, said in his statement that around 12:50pm on Wednesday, an AAP leader was delivering a speech from the dais while his supporters were clapping. Some supporters sitting under a tree were looking up, he said. Finding it unusual he walked towards the tree, the inspector said.
“I saw a man on a tree with a broom in his hand. I immediately informed the control room from my wireless set and urged AAP volunteers not to instigate him. I asked them to help me get him down from the tree but they did not listen nor did anyone on the stage help in getting the man down,” reads the FIR.
Accusing AAP leaders of not helping him, the inspector said he informed the SHOs of Parliament Street and Barakhamba Road police stations. “They reached the spot with more officials and urged the people there to help in bringing the man down from the tree. They urged the crowd to allow the emergency vehicle to go there and rescue the man but they did not help us and said Delhi Police was against the AAP.”
“They said the Delhi police had not even allowed the AAP to protest. The man had a towel with which he made a noose attached to the tree. The AAP volunteers and leaders kept clapping because of which the man hanged himself,” the inspector said in the FIR.
Recalling subsequent events, the inspector said AAP volunteers stopped the police from taking him to RML hospital and said they would use their own vehicle. The inspector accused the AAP volunteers and party leaders of causing his death by instigating him.
Eyewitnesses also said Singh had borrowed a piece of paper and a pen from someone from the crowd and waved a letter — which was later said to be a suicide note — in the air, as if trying to grab the attention of the politicians.
“He wrote something on a piece of paper and waved it at the stage. He screamed several times that if he was not allowed to speak he would end his life. But no one thought that he would actually end his life,” said Shehzad, a volunteer who had climbed the tree to pull Singh down.