Madhya Pradesh farmers' strike: Shivraj Chouhan appeals for calm, offers farm sops; Rahul to visit Mandsaur today

A day after five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, fresh violence broke out on Wednesday as hundreds of farmers took to the streets to demand for higher Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for their produce, among others. At least eight farmers were injured in a separate incident of firing.

Farmers in madhya Prdaesh block train during their protest. PTI

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

Farmers had reportedly taken the bodies of those killed on Tuesday and blocked the highway. It was after much efforts from the administration that the farmers could be convinced to cremate the bodies of those killed in protests. The agitation went on for a while on Wednesday, after which Mandsaur collector reached the spot where he was heckled by the protesters.

"When the protesters started misbehaving and pushing the collector, we made way for him to come out safe," Berkheda Panth's sarpanch Dinesh said.

The protesting farmers had torched vehicles and indulged in stone-pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits. Curfew remained in force in Pipalya Mandi police station area of the district and Mandsaur town, while prohibitory orders restricting movement under Section 144 of CrPC were also imposed in the rest of the district.

The violence also spilled over to Sitamau village in Mandsaur. The protesters torched a local warehouse, a factory and several vehicles in the village.

The Centre rushed 1,100 anti-riots police personnel to Mandsaur after the state home ministry wrote to the Union home ministry, asking for additional security forces. According to sources, the protesters had outnumbered the CRPF men on Wednesday.

Madhya Pradesh has been facing a shortage of milk and vegetables, leading to a price hike. Farmers poured milk on the Agra-Malwa road last week and stopped trucks from carrying vegetables to markets. Several parts of the state faced a similar situation.

In a bid to cool frayed tempers, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan held an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday and announced more sops for farmers. The Indian Express reported that the state government announced a loan settlement scheme for defaulters. The government also announced that a commission would be set up to fix a formula to ensure a fair price for crops by deducting agricultural costs.

He also apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the situation. Modi then chaired a meeting with key ministers to discuss the situation in the state, reported Times Now.

Chouhan had on Tuesday announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 lakh to those seriously injured during the protest. He appealed to the farmers to maintain calm and said that a solution will be found through dialogue. He also said that the government has arranged to buy onions at Rs 8 per kilogram.

Madhya Pradesh minister A Chitnis on Wednesday said that a scheme called Krishi Rin Samadhan Yojana will be introduced to help defaulting farmers get money on credit. The loans will be provided at less interest rates.

The state government stands with the farmers but some Congress party leaders have tried to fuel violence in the state through conspiracy, Chouhan had alleged.

Union minister Venkaiah Naidu also accused the Congress of instigating violence. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was denied permission to visit deceased farmers' village to take part in their funeral.

Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar accused 'some politicians' for aggravating the situation. Tomar said that Chouhan had worked a lot for farmers' development. Chhatisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh called the Mandsaur incident as unfortunate because Chouhan has done a lot of work in the agriculture sector. Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath demanded the resignation of Chouhan and said that he should take full responsibility of the violence that has paralysed the state since 1 June.

JD(U) leader Sharad Pawar said that he believed the number of dead was more than the reported five or six. He also added that he will accompany Rahul to Mandsaur.

Rahul is expected to visit Mandsaur on Thursday to meet the agitated farmers.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jun 08, 2017 08:29 AM

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