Announcing that peace had returned to Madhya Pradesh following appeals made by families of those killed in police firing in Mandsaur and his own decision to go on a fast, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called off his 28-hour fast at the Dussehra Maidan in Bhopal on Sunday.
Making a slew of announcements before hundreds of farmers, Chouhan said a high-level probe will be ordered to establish those behind the violence in Mandsaur because “they were definitely not farmers but shaitan (devils) and haivan (beasts) who tried to defame Madhya Pradesh and they will not be spared’’.
“Can farmers try to set fire to buses carrying women and children or pelt stones at them? Only haivan and shaitan can do that. They are criminals… I wanted to shake their conscience. send a message of peace and convey that violence will not help. Now I am satisfied. There has been let-up in violence and peace is returning fast,’’ he said.
Without taking names, he referred to comments attributed to Opposition leaders and accused them of plumbing the depths of politics.
He described the appeal made by relatives of those killed in police firing — they were brought to Bhopal from Mandsaur on Saturday — as overwhelming. “They said their own are gone but do not spare the guilty. They invited me to their homes. Their gesture moved me so much that I could not sleep,’’ Chouhan said.
Among the measures announced for farmers are:
* Kisan bazars will be set up in every nagar palika and nagar panchayat to allow farmers to sell their produce directly to customers — this, Chouhan said, will make brokers redundant and allow farmers to get a better price for their produce.
* Sale of any produce below the MSP will not be allowed and any violation will be treated as a crime.
* Soybean stored by farmers will be bought along with tur, moong and urad till June 30.
* Madhya Pradesh will follow the Amul pattern of buying milk from farmers at a much higher rate.
* Village knowledge centres will be set up and a Rajya Bhoomi Upyog Paramarsh Seva (state land use advisory service) will be started to give timely advice to farmers on crops.
* Agriculture land will not be forcibly acquired for urban schemes.
* A price stabilisation corpus of Rs 1,000 crore will be constituted.
* A commission that will decide fair price after calculating input cost.
* A settlement scheme to bring loan defaulters under the credit net again to enable them to get interest-free loans.
Anil Yadav of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), who claimed to have started the agitation in the state and had been detained earlier, said the government had accepted all their demands and there was no need to be on the streets anymore. A state minister standing behind him on the dais prompted him to say that Madhya Pradesh farmers will not take part in the three-hour blockade of national highways on June 16.
Union Ministers Thaawarchand Gehlot and Narendra Tomar and BJP vice-president Kailash Vijayvargiya — they are from Madhya Pradesh — were present when Chouhan ended his fast at the instance of former Chief Minister and party veteran Kailash Joshi.
The Chief Minister said several farmer organisations had appealed him to call of the fast and some of them were present on the dais.
But Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (RKMS), an organisation floated by former RSS functionary Shivkumar Sharma, said the agitation was still on because most demands had not been accepted. “Those who called off the agitation have no presence or were not agitating,’’ Sharma said, adding that the stir had become national and nearly 60 organisations have already announced a plan.
A PTI report from Mandsaur said Madhya Pradesh police arrested — and subsequently released — 30 activists, including Medha Patkar, Yogendra Yadav and Swami Agnivesh, in Ratlam, while they were on their way to Mandsaur to meet families of farmers killed in police firing.
The activists were stopped by the police at the Dhodhar toll plaza in Ratlam district’s Jaora town and detained in the Circuit House there for about 30 minutes. “They dispersed after they were released,”City SP Deepak Kumar Shukla said.
The police told the activists, among them JNU students’ union president Mohit Kumar Pandey and representatives from farmer outfits, that their visit could disturb peace in Mandsaur, where prohibitory orders under CrPc Section 144 are in place, though curfew was lifted Saturday.