Fearing eviction, kiosk owner immolates self

Worried over the alleged threats by policemen and Lucknow Municipal Corporation (LMC) for removing his roadside paan kiosk, a 40-year-old man immolated himself in full public view near his shop in Madiaon police station area on Saturday morning. The police, however, said there was no harassment and the man was depressed over his inability to pay back the money he had borrowed from his relatives.

Bihari Modi, a native of Dhanbad, Jharkhand, who currently lives in Kanhaiya Nagar area of Gudamba along with his wife and two sons, was running a paan kiosk near a commercial complex on the roadside at the Engineering College roundabout. His wife claimed he was worried that his kiosk will be removed by the police.

According to police, Modi doused himself with petrol and set himself afire Saturday morning around 8 am. He was carried to Civil Hospital by the police with the help of some locals. Madiaon station officer Ashok Kumar Yadav said Modi suffered more than 80 per cent burns and was critical. Yadav, however, denied that Modi took the extreme step because of any harassment. He said Modi is not the only person whose kiosk was removed by the LMC during its beautification drive in May. After this, he had again set up the kiosk, he said. Yadav said Modi had borrowed some money from his relatives and was unable to pay back, which sent him into depression.

LMC zonal officer Arun Sharma said recently there has been no drive to remove illegal shops and kiosks in Madiaon area. He said the illegal shops are sometimes removed as there is no place allotted for them near Engineering College roundabout. Circle Officer (Aliganj) Anees Ahmad Ansari said no FIR has been lodged as police had not received any complaint.

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