Ahead of kisan mahapanchayat in Malwa region, MP issues prohibitory orders
Farmers who are planning to hold a mahapanchayat in the Malwa region said they will ignore the prohibitory orders.
The Indore district administration in Madhya Pradesh has imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC preventing the assembly of four or more people for the next two months in wake of announcement of kisan mahapanchayats (farmers’ meetings) in the Malwa region, the richest agrarian belt of the state.
Farmers’ unions protesting three recent farm laws have been holding kisan mahapanchayats in several states since January 27 when the Uttar Pradesh police tried to evict farmer leader Rakesh Takait from the UP-Delhi border at Gazipur.
The farmers have held their meetings in several places including Meerut, Saharanpur, Muzzafarnagar in Uttar Pradesh, Jind and Ambala in Haryana and Bharatpur, Sikar and Dausa in Rajasthan. A large farmers’ meet has been planned in Malwa in Madhya Pradesh in the next few days.
On Wednesday, the Indore district administration banned public rallies, protests, dharnas and public meetings unless permitted by the district collector till April 15. Even social, political and religious organisation will not be allowed to advertise and publicise any programme without permission, the administration said in its order.
“There will be a ban on posters, hoardings, banners, flags and other publicity materials related to religion, persons, caste and community. Nobody can write slogans and graffiti on a wall of government and private building without permission. There will be a ban on using public announcement system. In case of violation of the order, action will be taken under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of IPC,” said the order.
The prohibitory order in Indore district came into force on Wednesday after the first kisan mahapanchayat in Madhya Pradesh was held in Khargone district on Monday. As many 500 farmers attended the Mahapanchayat.
Farmers panchayats in Chambal, Bundelkhand, Central and Naramadpuram region were not very impressive and in terms of numbers.
Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Mahasangh, national president Shivkumar Sharma ‘Kakkaji’ said the prohibitory order will not stop the farmers from attending the mahapanchayats.
“The governments of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled states are trying to suppress the farmers’ agitation. After Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has started targeting the protests in Madhya Pradesh. The farmers of Malwa region have started coming out of their houses and are planning to hold mahapanchayat in Indore. The order won’t stop the farmers.”
Kisan Sangh Sanyukt Morcha MP convener Badal Saroj said, “In Chambal and Gwalior division, the administration and police are not even allowing us to hold small meetings. The state government’s authoritarian behavior will not work. Now, farmers have started understanding that the Centre’s new farm laws are not for them but in favour of industrialists.”
The opposition Congress also attacked the state government for imposing prohibitory orders.
“The government wants to suppress the voice of Congress and farmers against the injustice of BJP-led state and Central government. MP Congress Committee is holding many protests across the state including in Indore against the rise in prices of fuel and LPG. We are going to organize a programme on February 21 in Indore and this order will not stop us from becoming a voice of farmers and common people,” MP Congress general secretary Rakesh Yadav said.
Former Madhya Pradesh advocate general Anand Mohan Mathur said, “The misuse of section 144 has been increased in the past 5-6 years in Indore. The prohibitory orders are being imposed without any reason to suppress protests.”
But Indore’s additional district magistrate (ADM) Himanshu Chandra said it was only a “common prohibitory order”.
"This is a common prohibitory order to maintain law and order in the district. It has nothing to do with farmers protest and any other protest,” he said.
The ruling BJP tried to play down the prohibitory order and accused the Congress of politicising the matter.
BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said, “The district administration takes this decision to maintain peace in the district. If someone wants to protest or hold a rally, they can do so by taking permission. Some leaders failed to get the support of farmers in MP so they are targeting the state for that. Similarly, the Congress leaders are unnecessarily trying to politicize the matter.”
(With inputs from Neha Jain in Indore)