Hyderabad: As many as 122 people across Andhra Pradesh reportedly died of shock or committed suicide after the death of Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, prompting his MP son YS Jaganmohan Reddy to appeal to the people to be stoic and brave.
"I appeal to all of you to be stoic and brave in this hour of tragedy. He (YSR) wanted to see a smile on the faces of all and if you resort to such things (suicide) this will hurt him," said Jaganmohan, trying hard to control his tears.
"He used to smile even in difficult times and I am sure he is still smiling. I request you to follow his principle and not to commit suicide as this will not give him peace," said Jaganmohan, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kadapa in the April-May elections and is being seen by many as the next chief minister.
The appeal before the camera was telecast on all Telugu television channels.
Television channels estimated that 122 people died of shock on hearing the news of their leader's death in a horrific air crash on Thursday, or committed suicide unable to bear the loss. Most of those who died of shock were keenly following TV news channels ever since his chopper went missing early on Wednesday and then received the news of his death on Thursday.
NTV, a Telugu channel, reported that 122 people have died since Thursday morning when YSR's body was found. It said 99 people died of shock while 23 committed suicide.
However, there was no independent confirmation of this. The police here said they did not have any figures to confirm this report.
This is the first time in the state's history that such a large number of people have died over the death of any political leader.
YSR, as the late leader was popularly known, has surpassed in death the popularity of actor and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder NT Rama Rao who died in 1996.
A large number of those who died of shock included young supporters of YSR and the beneficiaries of the various welfare schemes launched by him in the last five years.
The deaths were reported from 19 out of 23 districts in the state.
In the coastal district of West Godavari, six people died of shock and four committed suicide.
"YSR dedicated his life to people, I am dedicating my life to him," a youth wrote in his suicide note before consuming pesticide.
A physically handicapped couple, who were getting monthly pension under a welfare scheme, attempted suicide by jumping into the Godavari river but were saved by fishermen.
In Hyderabad, 42-year-old Yadgiri died of shock while watching news of YSR's death on television. M Srinivas, 30, another admirer of the chief minister suffered a cardiac arrest.
The charred bodies of YSR and four others were found on Thursday morning in the Nallamala forest in Kurnool district, almost 24 hours after their helicopter went missing.