An hour at the Mantralaya gates on Tuesday afternoon saw more action than the entire day's proceedings inside, when three people attempted suicide between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm after being denied an audience with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. The three -a debt-ridden farmer from Marathwada who was demanding a probe into his brother's death, a 21-year-old student from Jalgaon who was fighting for a scholarship that was promised but never provided, and a Mulund resident struggling to reclaim his home in a slum rehabilitation project -told the Mantralaya guards that there was no hope left after being "denied justice at the seat of the state government".
The Mantralaya guards, already on the edge after a farmer from Nanded committed suicide by consuming pesticide at the secretariat gates in March, have now been asked to check even the medicines brought along by the visitors. Calling Tuesday an "exceptionally bad day at work", one of the constables said that the farmer, Dilip More, 45, and the Mulund resident, Dinesh Padaya, consumed rat poison, while the Jalgaon student, Hiralal Dhakne, managed to reach the sixth floor where the chief minister's chamber is located, and threatened to jump off if he was not granted an audience.
One of the guards said that the drama started after More started arguing with the security to allow him inside. "His brother, also a farmer, had committed suicide in 2011.More said that his brother's creditors were responsible for his death and demanded that the chief minister order a probe. When we told him that he won't be able to meet the CM, he tried swallowing a few pills that turned out to be rat poison. An alert police constable thwarted the suicide attempt," one of the guards said. More has been admitted to the GT Hospital ICU, where doctors have termed his condition as "stable".
Another alarm was sounded barely half-an-hour after More was rushed to hospital."A Mulund resident, Dinesh Padaya, demanded to meet the CM. He kept saying that nobody was taking note of his complaints regarding rampant corruption in slum rehabilitation projects," a Mantralaya source said. Padaya's family told Mirror that he had been making several rounds of the Housing Ministry regarding a slum rehabilitation project in Mulund, where his house was at stake. "The builder said that we are not eligible for a house in the project," said Padaya's 71-year-old father Raghav. "My son is unemployed for the last two years, and our struggles to get our own house back seems to be never-ending. I came to know he was at Mantralaya when he called me up from there. I never realised he would try to end his life," Raghav said.
Padaya, who is admitted to St George's Hospital, had consumed nearly 100 ml rat poison, said Dr TP Lahane, the JJ group of hospitals dean. "His pulse rate had dropped significantly, but doctors managed to stabilise him. He will remain in hospital for 48 hours," Lahane said.For the guards, there was more trouble in store. The police found that one of the visitors, Hiralal Dhakne from Jalgaon, had sneaked inside the building and managed to reach the floor where the CM's office is located.
"Dhakne said that he was being denied a government scholarship reserved for the other backward castes (OBC) students. He threatened to jump from the sixth floor but the guards outside the CM's cabin caught him," a Mantralaya source said."A few of us couldn't even have lunch because of the drama. Barely had we recovered from the two suicide attempts that we were summoned for another emergency on the sixth floor," one of the guards said.
"We understand that people who come here for favours have plenty of problems to deal with. We sympathise with them, but that's all we can do," the guard, who was witness to Tuesday's drama, said. Deputy Commissioner of Police Arjun Bhamre, incharge of the Mantralaya security, said Tuesday's incidents will lead to an increase in security at the Mantralaya, even as Fadnavis ordered a probe into the Marathwada farmer's suicide attempt. "We will keep a close watch on everyone who enters the premises with medicines. We have instructed our men to keep an eye on those behaving suspiciously," Bhamre said. Stay updated on the go with Times of India News App. Click here to download it for your device.