Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to visit Mandsaur district on Thursday to meet the families of the farmers killed allegedly in police firing. The local police, however, made it clear he will not be allowed to enter the district. Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister HM Bhupendra Singh, who had earlier denied the charge of farmers’ death due to police firing, told news agency ANI today that the death of the five farmers was due to police firing. “This has been established in the probe,” Singh was quoted as saying by the news agency. The Indian Express had reported on Wednesday that the home minister, who had earlier denied the charge, later conceded that police may have fired in self-defence at one place. This comes a day after the Union government hit back at the Congress for “politicising” the death of five farmers during the ongoing farmer agitation. Neemuch SP Manoj Kumar Singh said on Thursday that Rahul will not be allowed to visit violence-hit Mandsaur.
“Farmers of MP are peace-loving. They do not indulge in violent activities. There is a conspiracy behind this entire incident. Those who do not want peace and prosperity in the state and can not see the BJP government functioning smoothly are behind this incident,” Rural Development Minister Narender Singh Tomar alleged.
Countering the allegations, Congress slammed the Centre for “spreading rumours” on the incident instead of tackling the problem. “The BJP has almost been acting like a curse of death for Indian farmers, literally – not figuratively. Distressed farmers are viewed by heartless BJP virtually as fodder for opening fire upon,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told PTI.
The Congress has also raised questions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence over the issue. “Despite much ‘hoopla’ about starting ‘Kisan DD Channel’, Mr Prime Minister – did this Kisan Channel show this Mandsaur incident?” Singhvi asked. The party has also released a booklet of facts about farmers’ plight and the number of suicides taking place in the country.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of Rs. 1 crore to the kin of those killed in the violence. The farmers have been protesting since June 1 demanding loan waiver and better crop prices. Centre has also rushed 1,100 personnel of anti-riot Rapid Action Force (RAF) to the violence-hit state.
Tension prevailed in Mandsaur and the adjoining Neemuch district as protesters defied curfew and indulged in arson and violence on Wednesday. The violence has also spread to other places in the state, including Dewas, Ujjain, Sehore and Barwani.