Madhya Pradesh farmers' protest: 4 dead in police firing, curfew imposed

With most of the slain farmers hailing from the powerful Patidar community, the ruling BJP, which has been facing the wrath of the same community in Gujarat, is bound to be at the receiving end of the community in the coming local body elections which will possibly be held in July in Madhya Pradesh.

On Tuesday, during an agitation, five farmers, who were demanding fair price and loan waiver, were killed and several others were injured in the firing by security forces. Chouhan while condoling the death of five farmers yesterday, announced a compensation of Rs 1 crore each for their next of kin and a government job for their family members. A curfew has been imposed in Mandausar and surrounding areas including Pipla Mandi that were epicentres of the protest.

Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also blamed the Congress for allegedly instigating farmers in Mandsaur and for trying to hijack farmers' protests. The Maharashtra government last week conceded to one demand by ordering a waiver of farm loans for small and marginal farmers.

"This is a sad event, and as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh has said, there is political influence in it".

Meanwhile, the Opposition came down heavily on the Madhya Pradesh government following the farmers' death. In addition to the lack of better prices, farmers are also angry over the land acquisition Act passed by the Chouhan government two months back.

Agitated farmers torched four chartered buses in Dewas on Wednesday afternoon.

The Congress questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "silence" on the police firing on farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, even 36 hours after the incident. Arun Yadav, president of Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee, told Mint over the telephone that the bandh was a "historic success". Mobile services were suspended in Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident fired at farmers.

Organisers say police opened fire after the protest turned violent on Tuesday, with some throwing rocks, torching vehicles and firing at riot police. In last two days, demand of farmers to purchase onion was fulfilled.

Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav said, "I can not recall such a massacre, they are giving death figures as 5, 6, but I believe that there are more". The prices of fresh produce have more than doubled in cities such as Mumbai, India's main financial centre and the capital of Maharashtra. This was a party (reference to the BJP) that promised 50 per cent above the input cost as calculation for MSP to the farmer. While the farmers' union had postponed the strike, some other organisations carried on the strike.

The farmers leaders comprised activists hailing from Puntamba in Ahmednagar district which the call for the ongoing state-wide farmers' strike, on since June 1, was given.

  • Anthony Vega