Mandsaur limps back to normalcy, govt taking no chances on farmers' stir
Anti-riot paramilitary forces on Thursday moved into violence-hit areas of Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur district, but the situation appeared to be improving in the troubled regions where farmers have been protesting for over a week demanding debt relief.
As contingents of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) fanned out into the district, the state government shunted out Mandsaur collector Swatantra Singh and Superintendent of Police O P Tripathi.
Curfew, imposed on Wednesday after escalating violence, was relaxed for two hours from 4 pm, as officials said the situation appeared to be improving.
The police, however, said some areas were still tense.
In Naya Gaon, about 70 km from Mandsaur, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by senior Congress leaders and the JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav, was detained by the police when the opposition leaders tried to make their way from the Rajasthan border to Mandsaur, the ground zero of the farmer protests. There was high drama as the police tried to stop what had turned into a rally of sorts with Gandhi leading from the front. When police tried to push him back, he ran into a field nearby from where he was detained.
Gandhi was released after over four hours of detention in the guest house of a cement company.
MP Home Minister Bhupendra Singh confirmed on Thursday said that the five farmers had been killed in police firing, a remark that assumes significance as the authorities had earlier claimed the police did not fire during the protests at Pipliamandi. Just before he was detained by the police, the Congress vice president accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of waiving loans of the country's rich while ignoring farmers' debts.
Terming Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi's visit to Mandsaur as a "photo opportunity", the BJP on Thursday accused the opposition party of "fuelling violence" in the farmers' protests and claimed "guilty" leaders have been identified and will be punished.MPost