Let’s be clear about something. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal are playing politics over the suicide of veteran Ram Kishan Grewal.

A photo of Ram Shankar Grewal. PTI

A photo of Ram Kishan Grewal. PTI

Grewal committed suicide at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Tuesday over the One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme after pointing out that his pension was still low in a letter written to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.

But is the punishment for politicising an issue getting detained by the police?

For the moment, let’s accept the stupid assumption that politicising an issue is a strong enough reason for the Delhi police — which comes under the control of the central government — to detain political leaders and claim that they were causing “disturbance” and “obstruction” at the hospital where Grewal’s body had been brought.

Now, let’s reiterate some solid facts.

Fact 1: Grewal’s body was brought to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Fact 2: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Rahul Gandhi made a beeline for the hospital and tried meeting some of Grewal’s family members, who were at the hospital.

Fact 3: Delhi police eventually detained Kejriwal, Gandhi and Sisodia, claiming that their presence at the hospital would cause disturbance.

Now, let’s go back a year. Let’s go back to 22 April, 2015, when farmer Gajendra Singh allegedly committed suicide by hanging from a tree at a rally organised by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). By the way, a Delhi police probe into the alleged suicide later hinted that the farmer’s suicide could have been an accident.

Let’s reiterate some solid facts again.

Fact 1: After the alleged suicide, Gajendra Singh’s body was brought to the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi, where he was declared dead.

Fact 2: Opposition leaders like Arvind Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi, Manish Sisodia, Ajay Maken, Somnath Bharti, Sitaram Yechury and even leaders from the ruling party like Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay visited the hospital.

Fact 3: None of these politicians who visited the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital that day were detained.

After Gajendra Singh’s alleged suicide, the BJP and Congress had played politics over the issue and lashed out at AAP and CM Kejriwal for continuing the rally despite knowing about Gajendra Singh’s tragedy.

Gajendra Singh, the farmer who died in April, 2015. PTI

Gajendra Singh, the farmer who died in April, 2015. PTI

After Grewal’s suicide, AAP and Congress played politics over the issue and lashed out at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly lying about the implementation of OROP.

Can detaining politicians based on reasons like “causing disturbance” be justified only when the ruling party at the Centre is facing criticism over an issue?

Going by the logic of the Delhi police, weren’t the politicians at the RML Hospital causing “disturbance” when they visited the hospital after Gajendra Singh’s suicide?

At this point, one cannot stress enough on how important the fact is that the Delhi police is under the control of the Centre. Somehow, when the Modi government is on the back foot and Opposition leaders are taking advantage of that fact, the Delhi police finds some reason or the other to detain them. But when the tables are turned and Opposition leaders are on the back foot and BJP is taking advantage of that fact, nothing of this sort happens.

It is very obvious what is going on here. To deny the fact that the detentions of the AAP and Congress leaders by the Delhi police was purely based on petty politics is laughable.

It is a horrible irony that BJP and leaders from the Modi government have accused the Opposition leaders of politicising Grewal’s suicide when they themselves seem to be playing a much darker and more sinister version of politics over the issue. Dissenting voices in a democracy are being stifled.

The biggest evidence of this kind of politics is that even Grewal’s family members were detained.

One of the most ridiculous aspects of this issue was when BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao told Times Now on Wednesday night that the government empathised with Grewal’s family members. So the government apparently empathises with the family members. But the Delhi police, under the government’s control, detains them, definitely not out of ’empathy’.

Grewal’s son has also alleged that he and his family members were abused and beaten up while in detention.

Moreover, Kejriwal and Sisodia are ministers from the Delhi government who were visiting a hospital after they heard of a tragedy which had taken place in Delhi, irrespective of whether they were playing politics or not.

After the SIMI jailbreak, Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also visited the residence of the guard who had been killed and met his family members.

Politicians from state governments have been meeting people affected from a tragedy in their own state for a very long time. Detaining them on flimsy grounds makes no sense.

By the way, merely hours after Gajendra Singh’s suicide, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted about how he was “deeply shattered”.

Till now, PM Modi has not posted a single tweet about Ram Kishan Grewal’s suicide. He might still make a statement about the suicide. In fact, he should, because he had recently said that he kept his promise on OROP when he spent his Diwali with soldiers in Himachal Pradesh. And this issue is all about OROP.

But the difference in the reaction time of the PM between the two incidents is something we should all think about.


OROP suicide to Gajendra Singh’s death: Same political play, different detention policy