As the state largely stayed peaceful yesterday, and if peace continues today, the chief minister might end his fast by afternoon, according to reports
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, on a “peace fast” since yesterday, said the families of five farmers who died in firing during protests last week in Mandsaur, have asked him to desist. The Chief Minister, sources say, may call off his fast later today, if peace prevails.
“The families told me that ‘you don’t need to fast’. They asked me to visit their village. We will do all we can do for them,” Mr Chouhan, 58, had told NDTV.
“We will decide the further course of action tomorrow,” said the Chief Minister, who has vowed to solve farmers’ problems and promised “stern action against culprits”.
Mandsaur, the epicentre of farmers’ protest, had been on the boil since last week. As hundreds of farmers held a protest there on Wednesday – demanding better prices for their crops and loan waivers – the police opened fire to control the crowd. Five farmers died on the spot, and one – who was allegedly detained by the police – died later in the hospital. Home Minister Bhupendra Singh had initially issued a strong denial about police’s involvement, but confirmed it later.
As protests erupted across the state after the firing, the Chief Minister began what came to be dubbed a “peace fast”.
Early this morning, from Bhopal’s Dussehra Maidan, where he sat on a fast with his wife Sadhana on the side and a portrait of Mahatma Gandhi behind him, the Chief Minister said, “I have always tried to everything possible to help the farmers. Their problems are ours. They are our own.”
The Chief Minister had appealed to farmers to come and discuss their problems with him at the maidan. “Your labour won’t go waste,” he told them. “I know of the bumper crop production that sent the prices crashing. I know your problems,” he said.
He announced that the state government will buy farm produce and give profitable prices to farmers. He is also believed to be considering waiving interest on farm loans, which could benefit more than six lakh farmers at a cost of around 2,000 crore to the taxpayer.
Those instigating violence would not be spared, Mr Chouhan said and promised action against culprits. “Justice will be done and the culprits would be punished,” he said.