Backtracking on his earlier claim, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh on Thursday for the first time admitted that the five farmers who were killed in Mandsaur died due to police firing. “Death of the five farmers was due to police firing. It has been established in probe. I have said earlier that the farmers may have died in police firing. I have conceded this earlier, various channels have also ran it,” Singh said.
Singh initially denied claims that the farmers died in police firing. He said that anti-social elements had infiltrated the farmers’ protest and fired at the crowd.
When asked about Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mandsaur today, Singh said: “Why does Rahul Fandhi want to come here? The government has accepted all the demands of the farmers.”
The Congress vice-president, along with JDU leader Sharad Yadav, have left for the Mandsaur to visit the families of the farmers killed in the firing. On Wednesday, the Congress and Centre traded charges over the issue. The Centre accused the Congress of “politicising” the issue, and claimed that there was a conspiracy behind the protests taking a violent turn. “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 said.
The Congress charged the BJP-led government at Centre and State of throttling the voice of the farmers. Addressing a news conference in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said: “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.”
The same day protests spread from Mandsaur to other districts in Madhya Pradesh, with protesters indulging in arson and violence. Vehicles were torched, roads and railway tracks were blocked as protests entered the seventh day. Meanwhile, in an effort to cool tempers, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced more sops for the farmers. The government also announced that a commission would be set up to fix a formula to ensure a fair price for crops by deducting agricultural costs. Chouhan gave orders to immediately constitute a Rs 1000-crore price stabilisation fund. He also announced that tur, urad and moong would be purchased from farmers from June 10 to June 30.