(G.N.S) Dt. 10
A Haldwani-based transporter who staggered into the BJP headquarters in Dehradun last week, telling a startled minister who was holding a janta durbar that he had taken poison after suffering “immense” losses following demonetisation and later implementation of GST, died on Tuesday. Doctors at two hospitals struggled for three days to save him, but 44-year-old Prakash Pandey succumbed to internal damages wreaked by the Sulphas powder he had swallowed.
High drama had unfolded at the janata darbar (public grievance meeting) presided over by state agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal on Saturday afternoon, Pandey stormed into the venue, tears rolling down his cheeks. To the shock of all present, the man went on to say that he had taken poison as a last resort after he was unable to repay loans due to note ban and GST.
“My debts have increased manifold due to demonetisation and the way GST was implemented. I have also approached the PMO for waiver of loans but nothing has happened. I have therefore been forced to end my life,” he said. As the visibly puzzled minister and his aides fumbled to respond, Pandey turned towards the cameras of some TV channels and said, “The Congress government was much better than the BJP. I am financially ruined due to the decisions taken by this government.” He then took out a pouch of white powder from his pocket, which he claimed to be poison.
Police officers present on the spot swung into action and rushed him to the Government Doon Medical College Hospital where he was shifted to the ICU. Later, he was transferred to a private hospital where he died of multiple organ failure on Tuesday.
Chief medical officer of Dehradun, Y S Thapliyal, said that prima facie it appeared that Pandey had ingested poison which led to organ failure. “The patient had said that he had taken aluminium phosphide, a highly toxic chemical. We have preserved viscera sample for examination,” he said.
The family of Pandey said that the government’s apathy was to be blamed for the businessman’s death. His cousin Umesh Nilkani told media, “My brother did not take his life, it was the system that murdered him. He was treated badly by the state government and was callously asked to get a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card before requesting financial help. He died fighting against decisions like demonetisation and GST which have ruined many like him.”
Nilkani said that Pandey’s transport business had an annual turnover of around Rs 1 crore for the past decade. “He had taken loan to purchase new trucks but the business slowed down first due to demonetisation and then due to GST and he was unable to pay back the loan,” he said.
After GST came into effect in July last year, it had led to confusion and fear among smaller transporters as operating costs increased. Many transporters were unable to lift goods from unregistered traders as it required them to pay GST on behalf of the unregistered traders. In Uttarakhand, payment to contractors, and subsequently transporters, for many government contracts stalled for months after confusion over the GST component of the completed work for which the price was worked out before implementation of the new tax regime.
(G.N.S) Dt. 10