Buying agriculture produce below MSP will be treated as crime: MP CM Chouhan
Madhya Pradesh CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan also said peace had been restored in the state and no case of violence had been reported since Saturday.india Updated: Jun 11, 2017 20:36 IST
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called off his indefinite fast on Sunday, and announced that buying agricultural produce below the minimum support price (MSP) from farmers will henceforth be treated as a crime.
Chouhan, who had launched his fast on Saturday to seek restoration of peace in the state, decided to break it because “no further cases of violence were reported” in the last two days. His government had come under widespread criticism in the wake of a farmers’ agitation that took root in the Malwa region on June 1, and spread to other parts of the state in the days that followed.
Six farmers were killed in the course of the agitation. While five died in police firing on Tuesday, the sixth succumbed on Friday to injuries suffered during a baton charge in Mandsaur.
The MSP directive was part of a slew of welfare measures announced for the state’s farming community. Though no loan waivers were granted, Chouhan said funds would be lent at zero per cent interest to help farmers repay their debts.
Reiterating his commitment to farmers, the chief minister announced that a land-use advisory service will be launched soon for their benefit. Besides this, he promised a scientific system to evaluate milk prices, agriculturist markets in civic body zones, and kisan upbhokta kendras (farmer-consumer centres) at every panchayat.
Farmers were also assured that their land would never be acquired (for development work) without their consent.
Breaking his fast with a glass of coconut water offered by former chief minister Kailash Joshi, Chouhan said: “Peace has been restored in Madhya Pradesh, and no case of violence has been reported yesterday or today.”
Besides promising to “severely punish” the policemen who had opened fire at farmers in Mandsaur, the chief minister assured compensation to those who suffered property loss as the agitation turned unruly. “I will not allow violence in Madhya Pradesh at any rate. Such cases will be investigated thoroughly, and guilty parties will be punished. I have dedicated my life to the people of my state. I live for them, and I can also die for them,” Chouhan said.
The chief minister had reached out to cultivators on Saturday, meeting 15 delegations of small farmers and 236 panels of big farmers. They reportedly pressed for loan waivers and “satisfactory” prices for their farm produce.
BJP state president Nandkumar Singh said the relatives of those killed in the Mandsaur firing had asked the chief minister to call off the fast when they met him on Saturday.
The “indefinite fast”, launched from the BHEL Dussehra Maidan in the state capital, was taken up amid violent protests in western Madhya Pradesh – especially Dewas and Mandsaur districts – over the last 10 days. “I won’t sit in my office at Mantralaya (secretariat)... I will sit in Dussehra Maidan and do all my (official) work from there,” Chouhan had said.
The state government has accused the Congress of making an otherwise peaceful farmers’ agitation descend into lawlessness. The Opposition party, however, dismissed the charge and dubbed Chouhan’s fast as “nautanki”.
The flames of protest had even singed the state capital during the later stages of the 10-day stir, with protesters torching a truck and a few other vehicles on the Bhopal-Indore highway. On Wednesday, they set fire to four passenger buses and 12 other vehicles at Newri Phata in Dewas district.
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Jun 11, 2017 16:29 IST