A 52-year-old man committed ‘suicide’ at the district collectorate in Machilipatnam on Monday after running from pillar to post for the last 10 months for the redressal of his grievance, a land-related dispute. He consumed a pesticide on the premises of the grievance cell which demonstrates how effectively officials concerned are addressing complaints received under the weekly ‘Mee Kosam’ programme—an initiative of the Andhra government to solve people’s problems expeditiously.
But this is not just yet another case of official apathy. It is worse. Visuals of the dying man were beamed on news channels with people more keen on capturing his last moments on cameras and cell phones rather than saving his life. After precious time was wasted, finally, it was a cop who rushed him to a hospital in an autorickshaw. Unfortunately, it was too late by then.
The Good Samaritan Law has been brought primarily to encourage people to save accident victims. This incident was not an accident. It is understandable that people around did not come forward to save the man—social psychologists may attribute it to ‘diffusion of responsibility’ with none believing it their responsibility to help—but what is incomprehensible is the behaviour of the officials and the electronic media. A senior official shamelessly claimed the man’s grievance was a ‘private matter’.
Is it? His utter lack of empathy betrays a deep malaise in our bureaucracy, the absence of any notion of morality. No amount of excuses can explain why the poor man wasn’t guided properly as he had been doing the rounds for 10 months. Instead, they added insults to injuries over time and none had the presence of mind to rush him to hospital in one of their vehicles when the ambulance was taking an eternity to arrive.
The district collector has ordered an inquiry but it is safe to assume that the erring officials will simply pass the buck. What is needed is a shock therapy. For, we believe that to call the incident a suicide is wrong. It is murder most foul. The tragedy is that the media too is a party to it.