BHOPAL: A day after five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, there were reports of arson and rioting in some places though police officers spoke of peace returning. Reports said villagers returning from the funeral of one of the victims assaulted Mandsaur collector Swatantra Kumar Singh and spoke sharply to superintendent of police O P Tripathi. They had to beat a hasty retreat.
Farmers set fire to three trucks and burnt a warehouse in curfew-bound Bahi Chaupati and Pipliya Mandi areas. Unconfirmed reports said mobs pelted stones and attempted arson in Suvasra town and in the Chandukhedi area of Ujjain. Additional director-general of police of Ujjain V Madhu Kumar said these were only sporadic incidents.
However, there were reports of roadblocks and protests from Gwalior, Sehore, Harda, Indore, Khandwa, Bhopal, Jhabua and Neemuch districts. Angry farmers reportedly attacked policemen in Ujjain.
Swatantra Kumar and Tripathi decided to turn up at Barkheda Pant village located on NH 79 to console the family of one of the farmers killed in the police firing on Tuesday afternoon.
Even as they were speaking to the bereaved family, some of the mourners started blaming the collector for the firing and asked Tripathi to remove his cap. The villagers demanded that inspector Anil Singh Thakur, who allegedly ordered the firing on the agitators, be dismissed, arrested and booked for murder.
The officials tried to calm them down, but the mood turned ugly and someone from the crowd assaulted collector Swatantra Kumar. Some villagers extricated the latter from the mob and he fled the spot. However, Swatantra Kumar denied the incident. “Some anti-social elements vitiated the atmosphere, so we had no option but to make a hasty retreat,” he said.
Jolted by the killing of the farmers, besides apprehension of paying a massive political price for it, the CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in MP woke up to the farmers’ demands with the CM chairing an agriculture cabinet of top ministers, where a slew of decisions were made.
Explaining the decisions of the ‘Krishi Cabinet,’ minister for women and child development Archana Chitnis said the state government has decided to constitute a MP Krishi Lagat Viparan Aayog (MP State Agricultural Cost Marketing Commission), which will determine the per hectare production cost of every crop.
The cabinet also put its seal on the proposal to establish a `1,000 crore corpus Agriculture Price Stabilisation Fund, besides giving the go-ahead for Krishi Rin Samadhan Yojana (Agriculture Loan Settlement Scheme).
The government also decided to do away with the practice of agricultural produce mandis paying the farmers for their produce with cheques and cleared a 50 per cent cash and 50 per cent RTGS system of payments.