Handicapped street vendors die for TV cameras

We have heard of staged photos. We have heard of photographers who arrive early making it difficult for those who come later to shoot a scene. But this?

Lucknow: Five of the twelve physically handicapped street vendors, who had downed poison on being egged on by television crews that assured them that the “act” would fetch them the district administration’s attention, have died.

The rest lie in critical condition at Varanasi’s Sir Sundar Lal Hospital. Mahesh Gupta, secretary, home department, said that two people have been arrested and an inquiry is on. The vendors, were protesting an anti-encroachment drive in the city’s Gurubag area on Tuesday.

Two self styled leaders, Namo Narayan and Ravi Banerjee,  representatives of two TV channels, are believed to have told the vendors that they would have a  chance of being heard if they put on a “suicide” act.

District Magistrate Leena Kumari, has come down on the media. “The vendors had been in talks with the authorities and were satisfied with the alternative sites offered. The  decision to commit suicide did not come naturally.”

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