Madhya Pradesh farmers have alleged firing by the police on protesters in Mandsaur; cops have vehemently denied it.
BHOPAL: A senior officer was manhandled and chased this morning by an angry crowd protesting on the highway in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur a day after five farmers were killed in clashes with the police. A curfew is in force and mobile internet was cut off in the region after the violence during protests by farmers demanding higher prices for crop and loan waivers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting today to discuss the protests and their impact with his officers before he leaves for Kazakhstan tomorrow.
Here is your 10-point cheat-sheet to this story:
- A curfew is in force and mobile internet has been blocked in parts of Indore, Ujjain and Dewas after a farmer protest for higher crop prices and loan waivers turned violent. Policemen in riot gear are patrolling the streets.
- Protesters have alleged firing by the police, which has vehemently denied it. The Central Reserve Police Force has also said it has no role in the firing.
- Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the police did not shoot at the crowd, that “anti-social elements mingled with the crowds and opened fire at the farmers.”
- Another top official, however, had a different version. “Police had to open fire to control agitated farmers,” Ujjain Divisional Commissioner BM Ojha was quoted as telling news agency IANS.
- After the firing, protestors became more violent and set a number of vehicles on fire and threw rocks. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has ordered a judicial probe.
- The violence marks a sharp escalation of protests which began on June 1. Farmers say they were assured minimum support price for onions and pulses like tur and moong.
- A former parliamentarian from Mandsaur, Meenakshi Natarajan of the Congress, was detained when she was on her way to meet the family members of the farmers who were killed. Top Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, may meet the protesters tomorrow.
- Taking on the Chief Minister, Congress leader Ajay Singh said: “All the claims of the chief minister have proved false so far. Now the government is using bullets to suppress farmers’ voice. Chouhan should resign immediately.”
- A lack of irrigation facilities and years of erratic monsoon rain have led to a crisis for farmers, with many suicides reported over crop failures and debt. Madhya Pradesh is one of several states that have suffered disappointing rains and crop failures in recent years.
- Farmers in neighbouring Maharashtra state have held similar protests and have stopped supplies to urban areas, leading to a spike in the prices of vegetables and dairy products.