Farmers’ protest continued unabated in many parts of western Madhya Pradesh on Monday even as Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government is taking all necessary steps to address the issues of agitating farmers. “This government is farmers’ government. All necessary steps have been initiated to address farmers’ concerns,” Chouhan said at a hurriedly-convened press conference here. A price stabilisation fund of Rs 1,000 crore would be set up to purchase the farm produce at the minimum support price (MSP), he said.
“People who are indulging in violence are anti-social elements and not farmers. They are trying to defame the farmers’ protest,” he added. He has assured the farmers that government would buy onion at the MSP of Rs 8 per kg, he said, adding that “we have already started buying onion in Indore, Ujjain and Mandsaur districts”. Procurement will continue till June 30, he said.
Similarly, some cereals too will be procured at MSP, he added. Meanwhile, assistant sub-inspector of police Pawan Yadav, who suffered a severe injury to eye in stone-pelting at Ratlam yesterday, has been sent to Chennai for treatment, to ensure that infection doesn’t spread to the other eye, the CM informed.
Farmers are demanding better prices for farm produce, among other things. Chouhan held talks with protesters’ leaders yesterday, but while two of the farmer outfits called off the agitation, others continued the stir.
Fresh protests and violent incidents were reported from Neemuch, Ratlam, Dhar, Jhabua and Dewas districts of western Madhya Pradesh on the fifth day of agitation today. At Neemuch, farmers staged a road blockade at Bhadbhadiya Four Lane square. Protesters pelted stones and damaged several two-wheelers as the police used lathi-charge to disperse them. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Chouhan were burnt.
“Two policemen were injured in stone-pelting. Police have registered a case against 200 persons and have arrested eight. 40 motorcycles were also seized,” city superintendent of police (CSP) Abhishek Deewan said. Tarun Baheti, a farmer leader, said the police used lathi-charge against peaceful protesters for no reason.
Shops remained closed in the market and supply of essential goods was affected at Jhabua district headquarters. Protesting farmers damaged some shops after an altercation with vendors over keeping the shops closed at Karwad village of Jhabua district, said Petlawad police station in-charge Lokendra Singh Thakur.
During a bandh called by protesting farmers in Mandsaur, incidents of violence and clashes between farmers and traders were reported from several areas including Gandhi Chouraha, Kailash Marg, Bus Stand and Shukla Chowk. Protesters forcing traders to close the shops led to clashes.
The farmers also confronted traders at Piplya Mandi in the district. All the petrol pumps remained closed. Farmers stopped a truck and dumped bananas it was carrying on road at Barkheda Panth. Mandsaur district collector Swatantra Kumar Singh however claimed that the situation was under control.
In Ratlam, police registered a case against 150 protesters, including district panchayat vice president DP Dhakad, for last night’s violence in which police ASI Pawan Yadav sustained eye injury. Fourteen people were arrested. In Dhar, protesting farmers emptied 12,000 litres of milk on road from a tanker at Borali toll naka on Mhow-Neemuch road.
Protesters pelted stones in Kshipra area of Dewas to force vendors to shut their outlets. Farmers also burnt effigy of Shivkant Dixit, leader of RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, who had yesterday announced end of the agitation, at Mankund in the district. A rally was taken out by members of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (BKMS) from Chapda in Dewas which culminated in Indore.
At a press conference in Indore, BKMS leader Shivkumar Sharma said the agitation would continue till June 10. “We are not satisfied with the assurances given by the chief minister. The BJP-led government has betrayed our trust on several occasions in the last 14 years. Our agitation will continue till June 10,” he said.
Markets in some parts of Indore faced shortage of vegetables, fruits and milk. Leader of Opposition in Assembly and Congress leader Ajay Singh asked why the chief minister was silent on the MSP for fruits, vegetables and loan waiver, which are the main demands of protesting farmers.