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Mandsaur firing: CRPF men admit to firing at farmers, but say it was unintentional

Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh had been protesting to push their demand for higher crop prices and debt relief when the agitation turned violent leading to police firing.

bhopal Updated: Mar 26, 2018 23:32 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,Mandsaur firing,Farmers' protest
A toll booth put fire by the agitating farmers on the Mhow- Neemuch highway in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh on June 07, 2017. (HT File Photo)

Two CRPF constables told a one-member judicial commission on Monday that they fired at a crowd at Bhai Choupati during the farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur district last year, but said it was unintentional and the guns went off in a skirmish when the mob was trying to snatch their weapons.

On June 6, 2017, five farmers were killed during the course of their agitation in Mandsaur and a one-man commission headed by justice (retired) JK Jain is probing the matter.

Firing took place at two places on that day- Bhai Choupati where two farmers were killed and Piplya Mandi police station where three farmers fell to bullets. Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh had been protesting to push their demand for higher crop prices and debt relief.

The district police have already washed its hands off the killings at the two places. However, it has admitted before the commission that one of farmers at Piplya Mandi was killed when a stone hit a constable in his hand and his rifle went off due to its impact, according to the deposition of additional superintendent of police Sunder Singh Kanesh.

The state government’s counsel Avinash Sirpurkar said two CRPF constables Arun Kumar and Vijay Kumar in their deposition said when they reached Bhai Choupati, there was a mob of over 2000 people armed with country made pistols and cans filled with petrol and they had surrounded the CRPF men and were bent on harming them.

“The mob had two CRPF constables on the ground – Vivek Mishra and Uday- and was trying to pour petrol on them and some of them were trying to snatch the INSAS rifles from the other CRPF men and in the skirmish, the bullets went off killing the farmers,” Sirpurkar said, quoting from the deposition of the two CRPF constables.

Interestingly, city superintendent of police Sai Kumar Thota who had led the combined force of both the CRPF and the district police in his deposition had not mentioned anything about any shooting taking place in Bhai Choupati.

Thota had said that they had lathi-charged the mob and cleared the blockade of the Mhow-Neemuch highway, and then had moved towards Mandsaur city.

The commission which was set up June 12, 2017 was to submit its report within three months of the issuance of a gazette notification on its constitution. It has already been given four extensions, the latest being on March 12.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 23:32 IST