Centre asks states adjoining MP to keep vigil
The Centre has asked states adjoining Madhya Pradesh to keep strict vigil against the spread of farmers' protest after five peasants were killed in police firing during an agitation in Mandsaur.
The central government is in touch with states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, and sensitising them against any possible protest by farmers.
The move came after various farmer organisations in Rajasthan and Punjab threatened to launch agitation if their various demands were not met.
The Home Ministry has also dispatched around 200 personnel of the anti-riots Rapid Action Force to Madhya Pradesh in the wake of continued sporadic incidents of violence and farmers protests in some parts of the state.
So far, 1,300 personnel of the paramilitary force were sent to Madhya Pradesh to help the state government restore peace and bring back normalcy.
"The home ministry is in touch with the neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and asked them to keep strict vigil on the prevailing situation," a home ministry official said.
So far, there has been no report from any other state about farmers' protest or any incident of violence. Referring to Madhya Pradesh, the official said heightened alerts were issued by the local administration in the three divisions in the state –Satna, Sagar and Rewa – where sporadic incidents of violence were reported.
Also, there were sporadic incidents of violence in some areas in Sehore where road blockades by farmers led to resorting to lathicharge by police on Friday. "The situation in Madhya Pradesh is improving," the official said.
In Madhya Pradesh, farmers began protests against low prices for their crops on June 1. The Mandsaur-Neemuch region, about 300 km from the state capital Bhopal where five farmers were killed on June 6, became the nerve centre of the gathering storm of farmer distress.
Chouhan to hold fast today in Bhopal; will hear out farmers
Facing heat over farmers' agitation, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Friday said he will sit on a fast tomorrow at the Dussehra Maidan in the state capital and hear the grievances of the cultivators.
The chief minister said the state government will bring in a loan-settlement scheme for farmers who defaulted on the repayment of their loans.
There are 25 per cent farmers across MP who have failed repay their loans, he said.
"I will sit on a fast in the open and run my government so that farmers can approach me for discussion," Chouhan told a press meet.
Chouhan, who appealed for peace, said the government will deal sternly with anti-social elements who are resorting to violence amid the farmers' agitation.
Why didn't PM condemn killings of farmers in MP, asks Pilot
Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Friday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's silence over the "brutal" killings of "unarmed and innocent" farmers in Madhya Pradesh during their agitation.
Pilot alleged that the BJP government was using farmers as "vote banks" and farm loan waiver as a "political tool".
"Unarmed and innocent farmers are being brutally killed in MP by a stubborn BJP government. They should have understood that if they (BJP) announced a Rs 36,000-crore loan waiver only for Uttar Pradesh, there would be similar demands from other states as well," the Rajasthan Congress chief told reporters here.
Madhya Pradesh has been on the boil ever since the farmers launched an agitation last week seeking loan waiver and better crop prices. Five farmers were killed in police firing at Mandsaur on Tuesday, while six others were injured.
Apart from MP, farmers in Maharashtra have also been on the war path since June 1 over their demands, including complete loan waiver.
"Under this government, farm loan waiver has only been used as a political tool. Why did you make this announcement before the Lok Sabha polls if you could not fulfil them? Why did the BJP promise to offer double the incentives than what farmers incurred as input costs? Farmers have only been used as vote banks to grab power," the former Union minister said.
"The insensitivity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi became apparent when he did not tweet a word condemning the killings of farmers or and expressing grief over the farmers' killings," he said.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi's detention near Mandsaur yesterday, Pilot said the Congress vice president did not go there to make any political statement, but to meet the farmers' families. "We went there as fellow human beings. There was no terrorist attack there, nor was there a natural calamity.
Still Section 144 was imposed. How can there be a dialogue when police and para military forces are using brutality to silence farmers?" he questioned.
Replying to a query on the BJP's charge that the Congress was inciting farmers, Pilot said this was "sheer irresponsible behaviour" on the part of an "anti-farmer" saffron party.
"When we were in power, you (the BJP) blamed us. Now we are in Opposition, you still blame us? How insensitive and sheer irresponsible is this? It is your government, your police and your administration. How are we to be blamed," he asked.