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Channels feed suicide hysteria

india Updated: Sep 05, 2009 01:16 IST
Anil Kumar

When 37-year-old Anil Kumar’s family members entered his house here on Friday morning, they found him lying on the floor with a rope hanging from the fan. He was declared dead on admission at a local hospital. “He was watching YSR’s news on TV continuously for two days. When we all left the house this morning, he tried to hang himself,” his sister Sarita told HT.

Considering no family member witnessed Kumar’s suicide attempt, it is difficult to conclude that Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s death provoked him to take his own life. But his family seems to think so.

Anil Kumar, entered in the hospital records as a member of the Backward Classes, is one of the hundreds in the state who are reported to have died due to the demise of their much-loved leader.

Sakshi TV, owned by the late CM’s son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy’s family, reported more than 200 deaths due to heart attacks and suicides.

The reports prompted Jagan Mohan to make a public appeal to supporters to desist from committing suicide. “He (YSR) always wanted us all to be happy. We should be strong at this moment. Such attempts would only hurt him wherever he is,” he said.

Though Sakshi TV downplayed reports of deaths due to shock at YSR’s demise and suicides later in the evening, most other channels, with the exception of ETV2, widely seen as pro-Telugu Desam Party, were highlighting what they said were dramatic developments.

Jyotirmaya Sharma, a professor of political science and an authority on Andhra politics, said, “Extreme emotional responses are common in this part of the country, where people are very sentimental. There is enough public sentiment after YSR’s death.”

The police could not confirm the authenticity of the reports.

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