NEW DELHI (Reuters) - A farmer hanged himself from a tree during a political rally in New Delhi on Wednesday, in what appeared to be a desperate protest against the hardship felt by many people scratching a living in rural India.
Four people climbed the tree to try to save the man after he was seen hanging. They released his body to a crowd below where people tried to catch it in plastic sheets, a Reuters photographer at the scene witnessed.
More than a dozen debt-ridden farmers have committed suicide in India in recent weeks as discontent grows against Prime Minister Narendra Modi who they say has done little to ease the plight of rural communities after crops were damaged by unseasonable rains.
Farmers are also angry at a proposed law to make it easier for businesses to buy farmland, that many fear will force them to sell land against their will. The law was the main target of Wednesday’s rally, organized by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Modi’s rival party in the capital.
The farmer who died on Wednesday was from the western state of Rajasthan, the government said. Local media reported he left a suicide note stating he had faced losses due to crop failure.
“Deeply pained to hear the news of a farmer committing suicide,” India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter.
Modi also tweeted his condolences to the farmer’s family, saying the death had “saddened the nation.”
Reporting by Aditya Kalra and Krista Mahr in New Delhi; Editing by Robin Pomeroy