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 10:42 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Successful launch of lunar orbiter, seen as a precursor for a planned mission to the surface of the moon, marks significant advance for the country's space program.
updated 3:15 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, shot while standing guard at Ottawa's National War Memorial, was known for his easygoing manner and smile.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Non-stop chatter about actress' appearance is nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
CEO's 30-min Putonghua chat is the perfect charm offensive for Facebook's last untapped market.
updated 11:45 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
updated 4:58 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Air New Zealand's new 'Hobbit' safety video stars Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, elves and orcs.
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
A 15-year-old pregnant girl is rescued from slavery, only to be charged with having sex outside of marriage, shocked rights activists say -- a charge potentially punishable by death.
updated 11:33 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
After sushi and ramen, beef is on the list of must-eats for many visitors to Japan.
updated 12:07 PM EDT, Mon October 20, 2014
Airports judged on comfort, conveniences, cleanliness and customer service.
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Scientists use CT scans to recreate a life-size image of the ancient king.
updated 5:59 AM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Despite billions spent on eradicating poppy production, Afghan farmers are growing bumper crops, a U.S. government report says.
updated 6:21 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 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