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Mandsaur farmer protest deaths: Judicial panel says firing was justified, necessary

Mandsaur farmer protest deaths: Two protesters had died in police firing at Bahi Parswanath and three outside Pipliyamandi Police Station on June 6.

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal |
Updated: June 20, 2018 10:09:42 am
Judicial panel on Mandsaur deaths: Firing was justified, necessary A scene after violent clashes between farmers and the police at Pipliya in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh last year. (File Photo)

The judicial probe constituted after six deaths and violence during farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, in June last year, has given a clean chit to the police and CRPF personnel and held that firing was absolutely necessary (“nitant awashyak”) and justified (“nyaysangat”).

The J K Jain Commission report, submitted to the state government last week, has observed that anti-social elements took over the agitation near Bahi Parswanath village because no leader who had instigated them to take to the streets in support of demand for fair prices for produce and loan waiver was present.

Two protesters had died in police firing at Bahi Parswanath and three outside Pipliyamandi Police Station on June 6.

Armed with sticks, iron rods and petrol bottles, some people in the crowd and indulged in chakka jam. They subsequently surrounded eight CRPF personnel who tried to stop them. The report said the anti-social elements threw stones and petrol bombs at CRPF personnel and beat them up. When constable Vivek Mishra, whose trousers and shoes caught fire, bent to douse the flames, the crowd pinned him to the ground and tried to snatch his rifle, it said.

Constable Uday Prasad was also pinned to the ground and attempt made to snatch the rifle of Arun Kumar.

The report said that the crowd shouted that he be killed. Despite warning from ASI B Shaji and constables Vijay Kumar and Arun Kumar to release the two constables, the crowd did not relent, forcing them to fire, according to the commission.

The report stated that Vijay Kumar fired two rounds, which led to death of Kanhaiyyalal and Poonamchand, alis Babloo.

ASI Shaji fired three rounds and constable Arun Kumar fired two rounds. The report stated that CRPF personnel did not suffer injuries because they wore helmets and other protection.

In his report, Justice Jain also observed that there was no evidence to back the allegation that an attempt was made to burn alive head constable Vishnulal and constables Mahipal and Suryaprakash, as also burn their vehicles, at Bahi Parswanath. “The incident does not appear to be true,” the report notes,.

The police firing at Bahi Parswanath, between 12.20 and 1 pm, led to two deaths and injuries to five protesters and made the crowd angry resulting into attack of the Pipliyamandi Police Station about 1.5 km away. The report said that between 1,500 and 2,000 people gheraoed the police station, set vehicles on fire, and damaged CCTV cameras and computers. The mob even damaged a staff quarter behind the police station, it noted. When protesters did not budge, the police lobbed 16 teargas shells and later fired at them, killing Chainram, Satyanarayan and Abhishek, the report said.

The commission said it was not established that some people in the crowd were armed with countrymade weapons and pistols. Head constable Dilip Moharir was dragged from inside the station to the gate, with the crowd shouting that he be burnt alive, the report said.

The commission said that there was no option for the police but to fire at protesters. Once the crowd dispersed, the firing stopped, it noted.

The report said: “Going by evidence submitted to the commission and circumstances prevailing at that time, firing was absolutely necessary (nitant awashayak) and justified (nyaysangat). The police did not keep in mind that they should have fired at legs first. Untrained police officials lobbed tear gas shells; that’s why the crowd could not be dispersed.’’

The important evidence of burnt uniforms and shoes of CRPF personnel was seized after a delay of 13 days, it observed.

The commission said the call for agitation – from June 1 to June 10 – was given by the Mandsaur district unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union and Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh. Farmers were exhorted not to let vegetables and milk enter Mandsaur. No memorandum had been given to the collector. The demands were statewide and there were sporadic incidents from June 1 to June 3, the panel noted

Steps taken by the district administration were not adequate, the commission observed. “There was no communication between farmers and officers that’s why the administration was in dark about demands and solutions and it did not make effort to find out. Administration was in dark about anti-social elements and that’s why they controlled the agitation. There is no evidence to suggest that the district administration made effort to arrest anti-social elements before the agitation,’’ the judge observed.

Traders at Pipliyamandi town were beaten up and their shops torched and property of Nagarpalika damaged, the report stated.

The commission was given three months to submit the report. It examined 211 witnesses, including 26 government employees. It was given three extensions.

The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have demanded that the report be immediately made public. State Congress chief Kamal Nath alleged that the report was on expected lines.

Kamal Nath asked, “Protesters have been identified as anti-socials, not farmers. Does the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government agree with it? If they were anti-social elements, who got the compensation? Farmers or anti-socials? Does the CM believe that firing in self-defence was justified and necessary? If anti-socials gheraoed the police station, how come farmers died in firing? If police and CRPF are not responsible, who should be blamed for farmers’ deaths?”

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