A trader in Uttar Pradesh went on Facebook live on Tuesday and took poison, blaming heavy losses, in a disturbing video that has gone viral ahead of polls in the state. Rajiv Tomar, a shoe trader in Baghpat – one of the towns voting tomorrow – survived but his wife died.
In the chilling video, Rajiv Tomar, 40, tears open a sachet and swallows its contents as his wife tries to stop him. She even tries to make him spit it out before moving out of the frame. 38-year-old Poonam Tomar allegedly took poison after she failed to stop her husband from taking it.
“I think I have the freedom to speak. I will pay the debts I have. Even if I die, I will pay. But I request everyone to please share this video as much as possible. I am not an anti-national but I have faith in the country. But I want to tell Modi-ji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi), you are not a well-wisher of small traders and farmers. Change your policies,” Mr Tomar says, in tears.
The shoe trader complains that GST (Goods and Services Tax) had hit his business.
Those watching them live on Facebook called the police, who took them to hospital. Rajiv Tomar is critical, but his wife died.
A father of two, Tomar had reportedly been in financial trouble for some time. Just a day before attempting suicide, he had posted a photo with his two sons, 15 and 11.
His stunned relatives say they never realised he was in crisis. “He was a very jolly person. It now appears that he was dealing with depression. But he never told us that he was facing any issues. He was in fact the person who solved other people’s problems,” said his uncle, VK Tomar.
But other traders who operated near Tomar’s showroom admitted that the pandemic had badly affected business.
On his Facebook profile, Tomar used to share posts supporting the BJP. He is seen in photographs with several BJP leaders, including Baghpat MP Satyapal Singh, Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Balyan and Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. But neighbours say he had no official affiliation with the party.
The two-minute video has been commented on widely and has drawn reactions from politicians including Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. “Deeply saddened to learn about the suicide attempt of a businessman and his wife in Baghpat and the death of his wife. My condolences to the family members. I pray to God that Shri Rajiv ji recovers soon,” she tweeted.
Speaking to reporters at the Congress manifesto release, Priyanka Gandhi said: “We are seeing this kind of distress among small traders, businesses across UP. Demonetisation, GST and the lockdown have hurt them the most.”