After courting arrest at the Rajasthan-Madhya Pradesh border, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday met the families of the farmers killed in Mandsaur. However, the local administration barred Rahul Gandhi from entering Madhya Pradesh. He was allowed to only meet them at the border in the evening.
“I just wanted to come here and meet you. I know that farm loan waiver and Minimum Support Price is your biggest concern. Whenever the jawans are killed at the border they are respected. But when farmers die they are not given the same respect,” Rahul Gandhi told the farmers.
Speaking to reporters, Rahul Gandhi said: “They don’t get the minimum price for their produce, their loans don’t get waived, only the loans of the rich are waived.”
Calling for a probe into the death of the farmers killed in the police firing, Rahul Gandhi said: “The ones who shot the farmers need to be investigated. There is a clear procedure laid down for this. First you use tear gas, later fire rounds in the air and then you fire at them in self defence. Without any warning they fired directly at the farmers.”
Rahul Gandhi also hit back at his detractors for terming his visit as a photo opportunity. “They have stopped me at the border. I am the Congress vice-president, people have been shot here. Government lied saying that they did not shoot them. I came here to meet them (farmers) and stand by them. Am I not a citizen of this country? am I not allowed to come here? How this is a photo-op? You have troubled them. Will raise this in the Parliament,” he said.
He went on to accuse the BJP-led government at the Centre of failing to listen to the farmers’s anguish in several states. “In Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu, farmers have been screaming in pain and crying. The BJP has lakhs of crore but they only want to give it to their 50 friends. We have raised our voice in Uttar Pradesh and got the loans waived off,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi was arrested under section 151 CrPC for defying curfew orders placed in several areas in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress vice-president was denied permission to enter Mandsaur by the district administration. A defiant Rahul Gandhi, however, reached Udaipur by flight and then rode pillion on a bike till the Madhya Pradesh border. After crossing the border on foot, he drove towards Mandsaur. When his car was stopped by a security cordon in Neemuch, Rahul Gandhi stormed out of his vehicle and pushed a policeman. “How can you stop me?” he thundered.
Rahul Gandhi also lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for ignoring the plight of the farmers. “He (Modi) can’t give the right rates for their agricultural produce, can’t give them bonus, can’t give compensation… He can only give them bullets,” Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
JDU leader Sharad Yadav and Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh and Kamal Nath also reached Mandsaur border and demanded the police to allow them to enter the district. Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot and Madhya Pradesh legislator Jaiwardhan Singh also courted arrest. They were taken to the guesthouse of a cement company, a police official said.
Determined to meet the families of farmers in distress,Determined to meet the families of farmers in distress,Gandhi had walked for close to 100 metres before entering Madhya Pradesh from Dalia village in Rajasthan’s Chittorgarh district. “Before entering MP, Gandhi rode pillion on a motorcycle in Nimbahed in Chittorgarh district for about five to seven kilometres,” IG Udaipur Anand Srivastava told PTI. “Gandhi reached Udaipur from Delhi in a chartered plane and left for Madhya Pradesh in a four wheeler by road… After the bike ride, he walked to cross the border,” he said. There are almost 2,000 people and nearly 150 vehicles with Gandhi, sources at the police control room said.
with PTI inputs