The Diver Who Brings Up the Bodies
So many Indian farmers are killing themselves that bodies pile up at the end of one long canal. Gurbaksh Singh helps their families find closure.
Edited by Farah Mohammed
Editor’s note: This article contains descriptions of retrievals of bodies of people who have died by suicide.
Today will be a quiet day, Gurbaksh Singh, 27, thought to himself as he dressed in blue jeans, a hoodie and black boots, and set off for work one December morning. The week had been unusually cold, and he had very little work. He expected to lounge in the sun, drink tea, make small talk with a few people, and get home early.
He drove his motorcycle through Khanauri, a town in the Indian state of Punjab, to reach the banks of the Bhakra canal. It had rained all night, and the streets had turned slushy. The Sutlej River, which flows more than 300 miles, all the way here from the Himalayas in Tibet, gushed at the sluice gate of the canal, accompanied by a deafening roar. Three men were waiting for him near the gate. “Kya aap gotakhor hain?” one of them asked, stepping forward. “Are you the diver?”
Singh is a diver, but not for exploration or science. Rather, …