Two years after the death of five protesters in two incidents of police firing near Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, family members of the victims have said they are still waiting for justice.
The death toll would later rise to six after one protester succumbed to injuries allegedly suffered in police custody.
The police firing on June 6, 2017, on groups of farmers demanding fair price for their crops had put the then Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government under tremendous pressure. Late that night, the BJP government had announced compensation of Rs 1 crore each and a job to a family member of each victim. While the unprecedented compensation was transferred to the bank accounts and jobs provided to family members, the main demand to prosecute the police officials who alleged fired at the protesters has not been met.
On Thursday, Chief Minister Kamal Nath, paying tribute to the victims of the “barbaric firing”, reiterated that his government was committed to punishing the guilty and to withdraw false cases against lodged against innocent farmers.
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who had undertaken a fast in Bhopal after the Mandsaur incident, said the present government has announced withdrawal of cases. “I promise annadatas (farmers) that not one officer responsible for the incident will be spared,” Scindia posted on Twitter.
Home Minister Bala Bachchan told The Indian Express that the government was going through the judicial probe report in the Mandsaur firing case. A one-man judicial commission appointed by the BJP government had blamed the protesters for attacking the police. He said the current government might order another inquiry if it was not satisfied .
Bachchan also said that he has signed many files related to the withdrawal of cases lodged against farmers in June 2017.
Meanwhile, the BJP, now in the opposition, has accused the Congress of “milking” the Mandsaur case for political gains. BJP leader Rajpal Singh Sisodiya alleged that the Congress had provoked farmers which resulted in the violence. He said the Congress had announced loan waiver on the first anniversary of the Mandsaur case on June 6, 2018, but even after months in power, has not waived loans.
Family members said their main demand remains prosecution of the guilty.
“A case for murder has to be registered at any cost,” said Dinesh Patidar, a resident of Barkheda Panth, whose son Abhishek was killed in firing. He said he did not know who had killed his son because the security personnel were sporting helmets.