Published On : Thu, Apr 23rd, 2015

Gajendra Singh – in life and death


farmerNew Delhi.

Ironically, he was wearing one of his unique traditional turbans on the last day of his life that ended so tragically in Jantar Mantar, Delhi yesterday. This colourful turban and his Rajasthani attire had attracted much attention even before he climbed the tree and came to alarmed public notice later.

Folks in Nangal Jhamarwada in Rajasthan from where Ganjendra Singh hailed still refuse to believe that ‘their Gajendra’ would ever commit suicide.

“He was a fighter and was ever ready to take the road to agitate over and talk about farmers’ issues” said other farmers of his area. They claimed that 50% of their crops were destroyed in the unseasonal rains while the official report puts the figure at only 29- 25% which is below the compensation criterion. There was general disquiet about this and farmers were disillusioned and frustrated, apart from being under great financial stress.

“This could have affected Gajendra, who cared a great deal for our problems and tried to give a voice to our issues. Now he is no more…” laments a fellow farmer.

When income from agriculture began dwindling, and his brothers were sent to ‘take up jobs’ elsewhere and not depend on farming Gajendra decided to make his hobby of tying ‘designer turbans’ into a profession which would bring in some extra cash. On good days and lavish weddings – and from foreign visitors – he could get as much as Rs. 500/ for tying one turban. He was on Facebook too and used his contacts to further his hobby.

Rajnath Singh, Home Minister was one of the leaders who had been one of Gajendra’s ‘clients’ as had Amar Singh. In fact pictures of various leaders having turbans tied from him have now gone viral in their village.

Just like his turbans had many takers across politicians of all hues, Gajendra himself had also tried becoming a member of many political parties himself. He began with the BJP, then tried the Congress and also almost got a ticket from the Samajwadi party to contest elections.

“He was a good orator and could elocute well on our problems. He attended many rallies in the past too” said Dharampal Singh, a relative.

Though BJP spokespersons tried to pass off Gajendra as an ‘affluent farmer’ (meaning he had no need to commit suicide) he was not one despite his family owning 50 bighas of land. But this was shared among his uncles and his father. His own father farmed on 25 bighas with the help of Gajendra. One of his brothers is in the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary and lives in delhi and the other works in a pricate firm in Jaipur.

His family was in shock and dismay when they were told that he was ‘critical’ after ‘falling from a tree’. They must have learnt the truth soon enough from TV though.

It was left to his uncle Gopal Singh to go to Delhi and claim his mortal remains for last rites in Rajasthan.
Tragically Gopal Singh’s daughter got married on the same day as her cousin’s death. Why was he not there tying turbans instead of going to Delhi is a thought that will surely haunt everyone close to him for a long time.