BHOPAL: At least five farmers were killed and four others were critically injured in firing on agitating farmers in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday. As the agitation spread further, the state administration has stopped internet services in three districts of the state.
Official sources in Bhopal confirmed the five deaths and said curfew has been imposed in Pipliya Mandi and Mandsaur towns.
The state government has announced a judicial probe into the incident. According to official sources, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called an emergency high-level meeting in Bhopal after receiving a report on the incident and is likely to cancel his visit to Gwalior slated for later in the day.
Later today, Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced Rs 1 crore compensation to kin of each of deceased.
Also, he promises govt job to the dependents of each of the deceased. Further, the CM had declared Rs 5 lakh to each of the injured.
Farmers in Madhya Pradesh have been agitating for higher returns for the last six days. Mandsaur district, on the border with Rajasthan, is the epicentre of the agitation.
The firing incident happened in Bahi village in Mandsaur district (350 km from Bhopal) at around 1.30 pm.
The deceased were identified as Kanhaiyalal Patidar, Bablu Patidar, Chain Singh Patidar, Abhishek Patidar and Satynarayan. Abhishek and Satynarayan died en route to a hospital in Indore, police said.
Police officers would not confirm whether it was their personnel who opened fire on a group of farmers.
Senior officer V Madhu Kumar denied that it was police or paramilitary personnel who opened fire on the farmers. He said it was possible that some residents shot at the agitating farmers.
Deputy inspector-general of police (Ratlam Range) Avinash Sharma said, “As per preliminary information, it was local residents who clashed with protesting farmers. They may have opened fire. We are gathering details on the incident.”
To stop the spread of information on social media, the state government has shut down internet services in at least three districts in western Madhya Pradesh -- Mandsaur, Ujjain and Ratlam. Internet services were shut down since Monday midnight in Mandsaur, and in the other two districts on Tuesday.
The Congress party, which is supporting the farmers, condemned the internet shutdown. “Are these farmers terrorists? Is the situation worse than in Jammu & Kashmir,” asked state Congress spokesperson K K Mishra.
A group of agitators tried to uproot the railway track on the Ratlam-Udaipur section of Western Railway last night. According to eyewitnesses, protesting farmers torched vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits of the district.
The incident happened at midnight when agitating farmers broke open the gate at a railway crossing in Daloda and tried to uproot the tracks. “Police rushed to the spot and stopped the farmers. Five persons were arrested and the track has been restored,” said the superintendent of police of Mandsaur, O P Tripathi.
The Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (RKMS), which is leading the stir since June 1, has announced a statewide shutdown in Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday. “The bandh will be in force from the morning till 2 pm. It has the support of all farmer bodies, including the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the Aam Kisan Union (AKU) and the Kisan Jagriti Manch (KJM),” said RKMS state spokesperson Sunil Gaur.
Gaur said some vested interests were inciting violence in the name of the farmers’ stir and slammed the Congress for trying to hijack a peaceful movement.
“The Congress has nothing to do with our stir and it’s vested interests like the Congress which are inciting violence. On Tuesday, our chief Shiv Kumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’ had to abandon his speech when some Congress leaders tried to sneak into our protest in Indore,” said Gaur.
The Rajendra Nagar police in Indore have booked two brothers of Jeetu Patwari, the Congress MLA from Rau (Indore), for inciting violence. The Ratlam Industrial Area police booked Ratlam panchayat vice-chairman and Congress leader D P Dhakar in an attempt-to-murder case for allegedly inciting a mob to attack police personnel in Delanpur village on Sunday, which injured an assistant sub inspector (ASI).
Dhakar, however, told the New Indian Express on the telephone on Tuesday that he and his family were being dragged into the matter by the police in Ratlam.
The SP of Ratlam, Amit Kumar Singh has announced a Rs 10,000 reward for the capture of Dhakar, who is on the run.
In Bhopal, meanwhile, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (an RSS-affiliated body) regional organizational secretary Shivkant Dixit said his group has withdrawn its call for a ‘gram bandh.’ He, however, added that protests planned by BKS between July 5 and July 15 for a special session of the Assembly would be carried out as planned.
“The BKS is not involved in any kind of violence or arson. Peasants should not be misled by anyone into taking part in such agitations,” Mr Dixit told media here.
“We presented to chief minister Shivraj Singh Chohuan a 13-point charter of demands on Sunday. The government conceded over 11 points. The regime has commenced purchase of onions, and cash payments have begun at mandis and arrangements have been made for purchase of moong and arhar pulses,” he said.
(Inputs from PTI)