Farmer unrest rages in MP, Rahul raises political temperature

Mandsaur/Neemuch, June 8  Two days after five of them were killed by police, enraged peasants in Madhya Pradesh continued to indulge in violence on Thursday even as Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi was arrested when he entered the state to meet farmers.

Farmers set fire to a truck and four motorcycles and stoned police personnel in Shajapur district, District Magistrate Alka Srivastava told . Authorities immediately passed orders banning the assembly of five or more people.

A Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Rajesh Yadav, was attacked by some protesters. He was admitted to hospital with a leg fracture.

Another mob of farmers burnt a truck in Dewas district. Mandsaur, where police shot dead the five farmers on Tuesday, was however calm but tense.

“The situation is improving in the district and no incident of violence was reported,” new District Magistrate O.P. Srivastava told .

Amid the simmering tension, the government transferred the District Magistrates of Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch. The Mandsaur Police Superintendent was also shunted out. All three places had witnessed violence by farmers.

Gandhi’s attempt to meet the families of the farmers killed on Tuesday raised political temperature in Madhya Pradesh and beyond.

Gandhi was not allowed to visit Mandsaur and was arrested with 29 other leaders including Janata Dal-United’s Sharad Yadav when they entered Madhya Pradesh. All of them were released on personal bonds.

Gandhi then met some farmers and expressed solidarity with them. Thursday was the eighth day of the farmers’ agitation in Madhya Pradesh. They want their loans to be written off and their produce to be bought at a fair price.

Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rajkumar Yadav said farmers also staged protests in Harda and Raisen districts while Aam Kisan Union’s Kedar Sirohi threatened to unleash road blockades in the state.

Gandhi lashed out at the Modi government.

“Modi waived off loans worth Rs 150,000 crore for the richest people in India,” he said. “But they can’t pay the right price to farmers for their produce, they can’t give compensation. They can give only bullets.”

Asked who was responsible for the killing of the five farmers, Gandhi said: “(Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and (Madhya Pradesh) Chief Minister (Shivraj Singh Chouhan)”.

Gandhi entered Madhya Pradesh by car from Rajasthan and switched over to a bike in a bid to reach Mandsaur after seeing police deployment. But he could not go too far.

Congress leaders Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh as well as Sharad Yadav were also stopped from meeting the families of the dead farmers.

A former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijaya Singh said: “This government is acting foolishly. Shivraj Singh Chouhan must resign.”

He said Chouhan had promised farmers 1.5 times return on the yield of crops. “Why hasn’t he implemented his own promise?”

The BJP accused the Congress of instigating the farmers’ violence and said Gandhi’s conduct was irresponsible.

“There is information that some people were involved in instigating violence,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh said.

Chief Minister Chouhan urged the farmers to maintain peace and promised to resolve the crisis through talks.

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