Within days of Maharashtra contolling the farmers’ strike with a demand of loan waiver among others, the farmers led by the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh in Madhya Pradesh have now started strike on similar grounds. Things got out of hand on Tuesday, 6 June, 2017, as the farmers went on a rampage and the protest turned violent as a result of which the police opened fire resulting in the death of five farmers and critically injuring two.
A curfew was imposed in sensitive areas of the district and Internet services were suspended in Mandsaur, Ratlam, Neemuch and Ujjain. A judicial probe has been ordered into the firing and the government has announced a compensation of Rs 10 Lakh to the kin of the deceased and Rs 1 Lalkh to the injured.
According to eyewitnesses, hundreds of protesters threw farm produce on the road, threw stones and torched dozens of vehicles. They also forcibly shut shops in the Pipliya Mandi Parshavnath Chowpatty area. The police at first resorted to tear gas shells to disperse the mob and when this did not help, they opened fire resulting in the death of five farmers.
In a blame game between the ruling and the opposition political parties of the state, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said that the Congress was responsible for tuning the agitation of the farmers into a violent one, while the Congress blamed the government and the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Ajay Singh, demanded resignation of Chouhan, saying the incident of firing in Mandsaur is shameful for a chief minister who claims to be a farmer’s son.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tried to assuage frayed nerves, and promised to take necessary steps to meet the demand and address the issues of the agitating farmers. He has said that a price stabilisation fund of Rs 1,000 crore would be established to procure the farm produce at the minimum support price (MSP).
In the meanwhile, the Congress and the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh have given a call for bandh on Wednesday across the state to protest the farmers’ death in Mandsaur.
The Reason Behind the Agitation
The farmers in Madhya Pradesh have been agitating since June 1 over the following issues:
- They are demanding minimum support price for their farm produce
- The farmers are also demanding a loan waiver so that they can apply for fresh credit.
- Demonetisation in November last year came as a severe jolt to farmers as cash is the primary mode of transaction in agriculture sector.
- There was more chaos when Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an organisation affiliated to the RSS, suspended the agitation saying the government has relented and accepted most of the demands including buying onions at Rs 8 a kg and paying farmers half their dues at mandis in cash and the remaining via electronic transfer to their bank accounts. But others led by Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh refused to budge and said the agitation will go on.
As per latest reports the situation in Madhya Pradesh continues to remain tense.
- Suhatra police station SHO Shyam Babu Sharma was attacked by protestors and has been rushed to Mandsaur.
- Violence has spread in Chandukhedi village in Ujjain, where 5 policemen were injured.
- Many farmers continue to sit in dharna.
- The vehicles parked outside a police station in Hatpipalya in Dewas district were set on fire.
- Train services in Ratlam were disrupted after the railway line was reportedly damaged, India Today reported.
- The Madhya Pradesh Home Ministry wrote to the Union Home Ministry asking for additional security forces in Neemuch, Mandsaur, Dewas, and Ujjain, where the farmers’ strike was on.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been apprised of the situation in Mandsaur.
- PM Modi discussed the situation with key ministers in a meeting held.
- While Madhya Pradesh minister A Chitnis said that a scheme called Krishi Rin Samadhan Yojana will be introduced to help defaulting farmers get money on credit, RBI Governor Urjit Patel said that the topic of farm loan waiver needs to be discussed carefully.