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Mandsaur agitation: Rahul Gandhi says govt at war with farmers, Congress calls bandh

Three farmers were killed and several others injured in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district in alleged police firing.

india Updated: Jun 06, 2017 23:07 IST
New Delhi
Madhya Pradesh,Madhya Pradesh farmers,Rahul Gandhi
Farmers protest on a road in Sehore in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, June 4, 2017.(HT Photo)

The death of three farmers during a protest in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur snowballed into a major political row on Tuesday with the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress trading blame for the state’s crippling agricultural crisis.

State chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan advised farmers to be patient and blamed the Congress for inciting violence. In a series of tweets, Chauhan declared Rs 10 lakh for the families of the deceased and called the incident “unfortunate”, ordering a judicial probe into the firing. “The Congress wanted to give the movement political colours.. the Congress has made the protests violent,” he said.

His comments came two hours after police allegedly fired upon a massive protest by farmers to demand better crop prices and a loan waiver, killing three people.

Minutes after news broke, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP government. “This govt is at war with the farmers of our country,” he said.

His party colleague and former state chief minister Digvijaya Singh called for a strike and asked for Chouhan’s resignation.

But Chouhan, who has ruled Madhya Pradesh for three straight terms, didn’t back down. He called for farmers to not be provoked and said his government stood by farmers and would find a solution through dialogue.

“Firing on distressed farmers in #Mandsaur shows complete apathy of BJP led MPGovt towards them. Farmers most marginalized in country today,” Swaraj Abhiyan chief Yogendra Yadav said.

The Samajwadi Party also declared Rs 2 lakh to the kin of the deceased farmers, news agency ANI reported.

“Farmers are crushed by a burden of debt because of the policies of the Modi and Shivraj governments…this is a matter of shame for the state,” Congress leader Kamal Nath said in a statement.

Madhya Pradesh is considered a BJP bastion where the saffron party has been in power for 14 years. But the government is facing snowballing protests by farmers, who say they cannot afford to sell produce at below-par prices for a third straight season and want the administration to create a safety net.

Three farmers died every day last year in Madhya Pradesh, data from the National Crime Records Bureau showed. The reasons for the suicides, according to the NCRB data, were attributed to farming-related issues like crop failure, inability to sell their agricultural produce, inability to repay loans as well as other factors like poverty, property disputes, marriage-related issues, family problems and illness.

First Published: Jun 06, 2017 18:47 IST