New Delhi: As the agitation against the new agricultural laws entered its 21st day, a 65-year-old farmer committed suicide at the Singhu border protest site on Wednesday, saying he could not bear to "see the ordeal of the farmers".
The incident spurred fresh calls from the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for repeal of the three farm laws.
The deceased has been identified as Baba Ram Singh of Singhra village in Nissing area of Haryana's Karnal district.
He left a suicide note which states that he couldn't see the ordeal of farmers who are sitting on the outskirts of the national capital protesting against the recently-passed farm laws.
The police said that it is verifying the suicide note.
A senior Sonipat police official told IANS: "We received the information around 5 p.m. and by that time his body was taken to Karnal Civil Hospital, where he was declared brought dead."
"Following this, we sent our team to Karnal and we are recording the statements and on the basis of statements, we will be taking further action," he said.
The official further said that in the short span of time, the police could not verify the suicide note and are carrying out the preliminary enquiry as of now.
"We are getting the post mortem conducted and we will soon verify all the facts," he added.
The official further said that the exact spot where the incident took place is being verified and police are in the process of recording statements of the deceased's family members.
The incident drew protests from opposition parties.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, in a Hindi tweet, wrote: "Sant Baba Ram Singh Ji of Karnal committed suicide after seeing the plight of the farmers on the Kundli border. My condolences and tribute in this hour of grief. Many farmers have sacrificed their lives. The brutality of the Modi government has crossed all limits. The government should quit its stubbornness and withdraw the anti-agricultural law immediately."
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also took to Twitter to express his dismay. "Hey Ram, what kind of time and era is this where saints are also distressed. Sant Ram Singh ji from Singa sacrificed his life after seeing the agony of the farmers. This is a heart-wrenching event. May the Lord rest his soul. His death is the result of the brutality of the Modi government."
SAD spokesperson and Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee President Manjinder Singh Sirsa expressed grief over the incident and urged farmers to exercise "restraint".
"A very sad news has been received that Sant Ram Singh, who dedicated his life to the service of humanity, committed suicide by shooting himself," he said in a video statement.
According to Sirsa, the victim wrote in his suicide note that he was unable to to bear the "pain of the farmers".
"It is a sin to suffer atrocity and witness it, which I cannot see," Sirsa said, citing the suicide note.
"It is a very grave time. I request you as the chief sewadar of the DSGMC to exercise restraint because anybody can do mischief in the farmers' agitation. It is a very sad incident for all of us but we need to be restrained," he added.
Thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh have been protesting at Delhi-Haryana Singhu and Tikri border and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh Ghazipur border for the last 21 days, demanding the repeal of the three farm laws.