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Madhya Pradesh farmers' protest: Authorities issue contradicting statements on police firings

As the farmers' protests rage on in Madhya Pradesh, authorities have issued entirely contradictory statements in the space of 24 hours regarding the violence occurring in the area.

The protest had turned violent on Tuesday when firing took place on Mandsaur-Neemuch highway. Five protesters were killed according to ANI. While a probe was initiated into the same, Home Minister Bhupendra Singh had insisted that neither the local police nor CRPF had opened fire on protesters.

He had further gone on to praise the police for showing remarkable resilience despite there being attempts to intensify the stir during the last week reported The Indian Express. He had claimed that some anti-social elements were engaging in loot and arson while pretending to be farmers. The report further stated that the deaths had resulted in the BJP cancelling the programme organised to facilitate Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

 Madhya Pradesh farmers protest: Authorities issue contradicting statements on police firings

Farmers in Madhya Pradesh block a train during their protest. PTI

Minutes after the incident, the then Mandsaur collector SK Singh had also said that the police told him categorically that "neither did they fire nor did they have any orders to fire".

Just the next day however, the Inspector-General of Police (Law and Order) Makrand Devaskar told the media that the police had resorted to firing to gain control of the rioting mob during the protest. Zee News quoted him as saying that "After a preliminary investigation, it is now clear that the police opened fire at the protesting mob. However, it still remains unclear that under what situation police opened fire at the people. The investigation is still underway and therefore, I am unable to reveal much on the matter."

The IGP's statement was then clearly contradictory of what the home minister and the district collector had said the previous day. The matter came to an uneasy conclusion on Thursday, as Singh too admitted that the five casualties during in Mandsaur had occurred during police firing.

When he was asked what provoked the police to fire, he said that it is being probed in the magisterial inquiry. However, he said the situation was peaceful in western Madhya Pradesh.

That statement was further supplemented by the police saying that the situation was tense but under control.

The situation in western Madhya Pradesh is posing a major challenge for the BJP government and providing a rallying point for the opposition parties.

The Chouhan government had sought to cool tempers by announcing certain measures, including a loan settlement scheme for those cultivators who had defaulted on repayment of farm loan borrowed by them earlier. The scheme will cover around six lakh farmers, with accumulated dues of Rs 6,000 crore, according to the government.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017 13:34:41 IST