Skip to main content

Burning man grabs politician during live TV debate in India

By Arshiya Khullar, for CNN
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
Indian bystanders attempt to douse the blaze as a local politician and a man are engulfed in flames.
Indian bystanders attempt to douse the blaze as a local politician and a man are engulfed in flames.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A man in India's Uttar Pradesh state set himself on fire and grabbed a politician
  • The man died from his burns; the politician is hospitalized in critical condition
  • The incident came as the country continues to vote in national elections

(CNN) -- A man in India set himself on fire and then grabbed a politician during a live television debate this week in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, authorities said.

Police said Durgesh Kumar Singh came out of the crowd Monday as India's state-owned television station Doordarshan recorded the debate at a park in Sultanpur, about 100 miles from the city of Lucknow.

He set himself ablaze with gasoline and threw himself on Kamruzzama Fauji, a local politician from the Bahujan Samaj Party. Singh died in the hospital a day later. Fauji is in critical condition with burns over 80% of his body, police said.

"People were just too shocked to know what was happening," local photographer Pankaj Kumar Gupta told reporters.

'Indian Spider-Man' campaigns for office
Inflation key factor for India elections

The superintendent of police for Sultanpur district, Pratibha Ambedkar, was preparing for a visit by state Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav when she got a call from her office about a man threatening to set himself on fire. "By the time we reached there, he had already set himself ablaze," Ambedkar told CNN.

Singh, 35, had previously worked at a flour mill in Amethi, a neighboring district.

His motives have yet to be confirmed, but authorities said the man's family claims he was being treated for mental instability. "Before the incident, the man also made a call to the local police control room complaining of harassment from his family," said Ambedkar.

India is in the midst of its nationwide parliamentary elections, which conclude May 12. During elections, several news channels often stage shows in villages and towns across the country, engaging politicians with local voters.

Voting in Uttar Pradesh, one of the country's most populous states, began Wednesday morning.

READ: India's voters won't get fooled again

READ: India's 'Womanifesto:' How central are women's rights to this year's elections?

INTERACTIVE: The world's largest democratic event

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT