The story of the five killed in police firing at Pipliya Mandi in Mandsaur Tuesday is one of despair before death.
None of the five was a land-owning farmer. One was a 19-year-old in Class XI who liked biology, the second an unemployed 23-year-old who had married two months ago and wanted to join the Army, the third a 30-year-old who worked as a daily wager, and the remaining two — a 22-year-old and a 44-year-old — who worked on family farm lands they didn’t own.
Their families live in villages within a radius of 25 km from Mandsaur town. Away from the spotlight, the families are still trying to come to terms with the deep sense of loss, grief often giving way to anger. Each has one query: Why was he shot?
This is their story:
Abhishek Dinesh Patidar
A student of Class XI who was fond of biology, Abhishek was the youngest of four siblings. The family house is located off the Mandsaur-Neemuch highway in Barkheda Panth village. On Tuesday, the family placed his body on the highway and blocked it, forcing the District Collector to rush there with a large police force. The Collector was nearly manhandled by angry villagers and had to beat a retreat.
Abhishek’s father Dinesh, a 55-year-old father who is yet to get his share of the family’s 28 bigha of land, says his son was only raising slogans during the protest. He never indulged in violence, says the father. “What harm could a teenager do to the police,’’ asked a relative, alleging he was shot from close range.
Poonamchand alias Babloo Jagdish Patidar
From Takrawad village, 25 km from the Pipliya Mandi police station, Poonamchand lost his father in January 2016. Chasing a BSc degree, he gave up college in the second year because he had to take care of seven bigha of family land that was never transferred to him. He got married. Worried that he had not been able to recover input costs for soyabean, garlic and wheat, Poonamchand joined the protest.
“He was drinking water when he was shot in the chest. He and other farmers were in the middle of talks when men in a police vehicle passed by and shot him,” says uncle Ghanshyam. Kantilal Patidar, a friend who was witness to the incident, says “the police gave us no warning… we thought they will lob tear gas shells but they simply fired. He took the first bullet and the second bullet hit Kanhaiyalal.’’
“We don’t know who will take care of the land because now only his young wife and and an ailing mother are left,’’ says relative Subhash Patidar.
Chainram Ganpat Patidar
From Nayakheda village, Chainram got married on April 29 because it was Akshaya Tritiya, an auspicious day. His young wife has been in a state of shock since Tuesday. His father, who owns less than two bigha, works as a farm labour to make ends meet. “My son’s dream was a life in the Army” is all that he says. Others in the family say Chainram took part in three recruitment camps in Mhow, Bhopal and Gwalior but was rejected each time. Though he always managed to clear the endurance tests, a vision defect in one eye ruled him out.
The family once owned a large piece of land but much of it was acquired by the government in the late 1970s for a dam. The compensation was so meagre, says a relative, that the family could not buy land elsewhere and fell on hard times. Chainram’s younger brother, who is studying in Class XII, hopes he will get a job the Madhya Pradesh government has promised to the next of kin of each
Satyanarayan Mangilal Dhangar
A a resident of Lodh village, more than 20 km from Mandsaur, Satyanarayan, who studied till Class VII, worked as a daily wager, earning Rs 200. A bachelor, he earned more than the family’s income from agriculture. The family has around six bigha but they do still do not have the land title. Elder brother Raju Dhangar says: “He was the only one to bring money daily. The rest of us spent time on the small family land. Agriculture income is never certain.’’
Satyanarayan was the youngest of four siblings. “Had he told me he was going to attend the protest rally, I would have probably stopped him. He told someone that he just wanted to see the rally. I don’t know how he ended up there,’’ Raju says.
Father Mangilal is worried that he doesn’t have an Aadhaar card because it will be needed to open a bank account — the government has promised Rs one crore to the family of each dead.
Kanhaiyalal Dhurilal Patidar
A resident of Chillod Pipliya and father of two children, he did not study beyond Class VIII but his 16-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son attend school. He and his three brothers have seven bigha. “He was fearless and thought the police would not touch him because the protest was peaceful. He thought the police were calling him to talk, but they shot him,’’ neighbour Suresh Chandra Patidar says.
Elder brother Kaluram says farming has become a loss-making proposition because farmers are unable to recover even input costs.