After farmer's suicide in Delhi, trees on police watch list

After farmer's suicide in Delhi, trees on police watch list

The suicide by a Rajasthan-based farmer at an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) rally against the Narendra Modi government's land acquisition bill not only shook the nation but has now forced the Delhi Police to keep a "special watch on trees", especially at Delhi's Jantar Mantar, during protest demonstrations to prevent a repeat of such an attempt.

The instruction was especially given to the policemen deputed at Jantar Mantar - a 17th century observatory, but nowadays better known as the capital's protest venue - just a day after middle-aged Rajasthan farmer Gajendra Singh hanged himself from a branch of a tree on April 22.

A police officer told IANS that the specific instruction was given on Monday when another man, in his 50s, climbed on a tree and started raising slogans during the Youth Congress protest against the "anti-farmer" policies of the Modi government.

The man was forced to come down in time due to the prompt action taken by police and some protesters, the officer said.

"The policemen deputed at the Jantar Mantar have been instructed to keep a special watch on all the trees at the site during any protest," Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi) Vijay Singh told IANS.

"Our only focus is to stop those copying the Rajasthan farmer's suicide act," Singh added.
Singh, however, said no special team was being formed to keep a watch on people climbing trees, but the men in khaki will fan out and keep a watch on trees.

Asked how the police would act after finding a man climbing on a tree during any protest at Jantar Mantar, Singh said: "We have informed our officers to immediately share the information with the concerned fire department so that they can bring the person down from the tree."

Singh also said that the police have requested the fire department to station a vehicle at Jantar Mantar to tackle such a situation.

Gajendra Singh's death led to a political blame game and the case was handed over from the district police to the Crime Branch for a quick investigation.

The Delhi Police registered a First Information Report (FIR) in which it blamed AAP supporters and leaders for instigating the farmer to commit suicide.

Now, the force is trying to piece together the last 24 hours of the farmer's life by analysing his mobile phone data and questioning people to find out where he had visited and whom he had spoken to before his suicide.

One of the relatives of the farmer, whose mobile phone number was found on his call log, has told police that he was asked by him to switch on his television as "something was going to happen".

"The relative who lives in Singh's native village in Dausa (Rajasthan) received a call from him around 1 p.m. on April 22 about a dramatic happening," said a police officer privy to the investigation.

He added that around half-an-hour after the call, Singh was found hanging from the tree and later declared dead at a city hospital.

"We surely don't want a repeat of that incident (farmer's suicide)," Vijay Singh added.

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