With Rs 7,000 a month as salary for his contractual job with the Punjab government, it was hard for pharmacist Jaswinder Singh to feed his family. Betrayed after repeated promises of regular jobs, the 35-year-old was among the pharmacists protesting for several weeks before his patience ended on Friday, and he hanged himself in the Bathinda village dispensary where he was posted.
But, he has left behind a suicide note and writings on the office wall that may well shake the government awake.
A veterinary pharmacist, Jaswinder hanged himself with a ceiling fan around 10am at the dispensary in Singo village of Bathinda district leaving behind a suicide note blaming the state government's policies that "forced" him to take the extreme step. Shockingly, he had even updated his status on social networking website Facebook a day before that he would commit suicide the next morning. Plus, he wrote his feelings of betrayal by the state government on the walls of the dispensary, it is learnt.
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The Bathinda police, in turn, claimed that the pharmacist was suffering from "mental illness" because of which he committed suicide. He has left behind his wife and two children (13 and 6), besides his mother and father. It is also alleged that the police tore the part of the suicide note where the victim had written down his Facebook ID to point towards his status message about the suicide.
Talwandi Sabo DSP Jagdish Kumar said, "A relative of Jaswinder has given us the statement that he was mentally ill. It's also doubtful if the suicide note is written by Jaswinder, and we have no information about any Facebook update. Nothing was written on the walls. We are inquiring further." Photojournalists were debarred from the room where the suicide took place.
Note, however, that the suicide note was not only signed in both English and Punjabi but also carried Jaswinder's official stamp.
Punjab Veterinary Pharmacist Association head Kuldeep Singh Brar said, "Indeed, wrong policies of the state government forced Jaswinder to commit suicide. Since June 1, we pharmacists have been protesting but not a single official moved. Jaswinder's family should be given a government job along with some compensation."
The association had already given a bandh call for Bathinda for Saturday. The Rural Medical Services Association also recated sharply; its president Aslam Parvez said, "We severely condemn the state government for adopting such policies that forced its own employee to commit suicide. On Saturday, in protest we will close all dispensaries in Punjab for two hours. I appeal to chief minister Prakash Singh Badal to personally intervene in the matter."
The PCMS Association also expressed support to the pharmacists' cause.
Meanwhile, the cremation was held after post-mortem examination.
Suicide note: 'Death better than a R7,000 job'
"Mai ajj marr reha haan. Meri maut di jummewaar Punjab sooba sarkar ate sarkaar dian neetiyan hann! Sarkar ne vaar-vaar vaada karan purant vi saanu sirf 7,000-8,220/- theke upar hi rakkhya. Satt hazaar di naukri naalon maut changi. Mai sarkaar de atyachar ton tang aa ke apna jeewan khatam kar riha, ate parmaatma ton duaa mangda ki mere saathi veer apne hakkan di prapti vich zaroor kaamyab hon."
("I am dying today. Punjab govt and its policies are responsible for my death! Despite repeated promises, govt hired us only on contract in Rs 7,000-8,220 contract. Deat is better than a job for Rs 7,000. I am killing myself due to the torture by the govt, and pray to God that my fellow pharmacists get their rights.")