Wednesday was a big day for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) when its leaders had hoped to put the Narendra Modi government on the mat over the issues of Land Bill and distressed farmers committing suicide.
The rally was going on as planned when a farmer from Rajasthan, who had lost his crops in last month's unseasonal rain, hanged himself from a tree in public view at Jantar Mantar, barely one km from Parliament House.
It was 1.45 pm.
Some AAP volunteers had spotted Gajendra Singh, a father of three, with his scarf around his neck and informed the party leaders, who then requested Singh to climb down and lashed out at Delhi Police for their inertness.
"Our friend who has climbed the tree please come down…come to the stage, the CM will meet him. If Delhi Police (is) standing here and still he climbed up, then what are they doing? Is this something planned? How is this happening in front of the police," Kumar Vishwas said.
Eyewitnesses claimed the policemen did not take any step while some volunteers climbed up the tree. For nearly 15 minutes, efforts were made to bring Singh down but then he fell down from the tree and was taken to the hospital around 2 pm.
A clamour ensued, but the 41-year-old's life had come to an untimely end. And the speeches at the rally went on. Among those present at the venue were Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his Cabinet and scores of policemen.
Kejriwal blamed the police in his speech: "We kept asking the police to bring him down. Police may not be in our control but at least there should be humanity in them." He also attacked Modi for "working for the super rich and ignoring farmers".
An AAP volunteer also blamed the police for not helping him save Gajendra's life. "I will never forget that a life was lost in front of my eyes. I had only a few minutes... When I reached him, his tongue was already hanging out," said Joginder Singh, a resident of Chandigarh.
Twist to Tragedy
In a morbid twist to the tragedy, Kejriwal took to the mic after Singh was moved to the hospital and spoke for 15 minutes about the harrowing situation the nation's farmers were reeling under.
Only after the speech did he head out to the hospital to meet Singh - a move that has invited severe criticism for insensitivity. Hitting back at this criticism, AAP said Modi had also gone ahead with a rally in Patna even after the venue was hit by blasts.
"The BJP should be the last party to complain about it. We did not even go for a march on Parliament Street to avoid a law-and-order situation," AAP leader Sanjay Singh said.
In a sarcastic comment, senior AAP leader Ashutosh told newspersons, "Should the Delhi CM have climbed the tree? Next time, will tell the CM to climb the tree."
However, he later tweeted: "I am extremely sorry for my statement. And apologise for that." Gajendra Singh, a resident of Nangal Jhamarwada village in Dausa, mentioned in a handwritten Hindi note that he had been disowned by his father after his crops were destroyed.
The phone numbers of his family members were also scribbled on the paper.
He signed it off with 'Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan'.
In their defence, a police officer of New Delhi district said a message was flashed on wireless sets and senior officers informed.
"There was no delay and cops were not spectators," he added.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal has ordered a magisterial probe into the incident. The Delhi Police has also ordered an investigation, headed by a Joint Commissioner, after Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Delhi Police chief BS Bassi.
A case was registered in New Delhi district and the investigation later handed over to the Crime Branch.