Abhishek Patidar, 17, and Chain Ram Patidar, 23 — sons of small farmers from Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh — dreamt of different careers for themselves. While one aspired to be a doctor, the second wanted to join the army. But their lives were tragically cut short on 6 June, when bullets fired by the police shattered the dreams of the two youth and their families. The two, along with four others protesters, were killed in police firing. The rest, as they say, is history.
The farmers' agitation and resultant violence in Mandsaur has put this nondescript district of Madhya Pradesh on the national map.
Abhishek's father, Dinesh Kumar Patidar — a farmer from Barkheda Panth, about 25 km from Mandsaur — laments with tearful eyes over allowing his youngest son to attend the demonstration on 6 June at Pipaliya Mandi, where police fired openly at the mob.
"He asked me for permission to go and see the demonstration along with his friends and neighbours. I allowed him because the demonstration was for the farmers' rights. But after a few hours, instead of my son, his dead body was brought home," Dinesh told Firstpost, while sitting outside his house with other neighbourhood farmers.
Abhishek, said one of his neighbours, was sitting on the opposite end of Pipaliya Mandi police station and watching a gathering of nearly 5,000 farmers who were demonstrating by blocking the state highway.
"The gathering grew more aggressive when the police tried to disperse the mob. All of a sudden, police started firing at the mob, and one bullet hit Abhishek's stomach. He fell down, but we helped him get up, and he started running. A second bullet then pierced through his back and he fell flat," the neighbour said.
The Class XII biology student, who was aspiring to become the first doctor from the family, was rushed to a hospital in Indore along with two other farmers who were fired upon. But he died on the way.
In a bid to pacify the farmers and families of the deceased, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a Rs 1 crore compensation to their families. "First the government announced Rs 5 lakh, then Rs 10 lakh, and finally Rs 1 crore as compensation. Are they trying to auction dead bodies?" questioned Dinesh.
However, nobody from the political leadership or state administration has yet visited Abhishek's family — neither to console them, nor to inform them about the compensation.
"Abhishek used to assist me with farming, but wanted to be a doctor, since farming has become a loss-making proposition now. In the last three years, it has worsened further for farmers, and this agitation has taken place because of that," added Abhishek's father, who owns 28 bighas of land and grows soyabean, gram and onion.
"The farmers wouldn't have become aggressive had their appeal for a protest bandh been heard. The government didn't pay any heed to it. A few traders, backed by the ruling party, refused to budge and thrashed young farmers in the local market. Nobody is bothered about farmers' distress," remarked Lakshminarayan, Patidar's neighbour, and a carpenter by profession.
The story of Chain Ram Patidar is equally heart rending. The elder of two siblings, Chain Ram was the son of a poor farmer Ganpatlal Patidar. He wanted to join the Indian Army. A narrow serpentine road with fields on both sides in Nayakheda village, 20 km from Barkheda Panth, leads to Chain Ram's place.
"I have only two bighas of land. Seeing our poor condition, my son wanted to join the army. He was passionate about serving the nation. He cleared all the tests, except the last medical one due to his eyesight," a visibly shattered Ganpatlal Patidar told Firstpost, while sitting with other elders of the family outside his small 400 sq feet thatched roof house.
One could hear a constant sobbing from the inside room. The family elders said Chain Ram had only gotten married in April this year.
"My brother went with a few neighbours to Pipaliya Mandi. He was standing at a distance from the farmers' gathering. When the police opened firing, everybody started running away, and my brother fell down. He was shot in the head. The post-mortem report confirmed that he died as a result of a bullet piercing through the top of his skull. Eyewitnesses told us that policemen dragged my brother by pulling him by his leg," said Govind Patidar, a Class XII student, and Chain Ram's younger sibling.
"Nobody wants to pursue farming now, since we fail to get even our input cost. Things have become increasingly difficult. I have a very small land holding, which is less than half a hectare and I grow onions. You can see a stack of onions lying here unsold, as prices have crashed. Now my only hope is Govind, who may choose some other profession," Ganpatlal added.
Even his family has questioned the state administration, since nobody with the exception of the local patwari and the village sarpanch has yet visited them.
The villagers have questioned the "cold-blooded killing" of these two young people from their village, two youngsters who weren't even involved in the protests. The one question on their minds is not just about a bleak future in farming, but also about the lives that were inadvertently lost. They don't know whom to trust anymore.
Updated Date: Jun 11, 2017 09:31 AM