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Violent protest by farmers continues in Madhya Pradesh

08 Juin 2017

Five persons were killed yesterday as the farmers' agitation turned violent in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, prompting the authorities to clamp curfew in the trouble-hit area.

The government of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan tried to douse the fires by announcing financial compensation for those killed in the violence and said he was ready for talks with farmers.

Asked what provoked the police to fire, the home minister said it is being probed in the magisterial inquiry.

While the protesting farmers have been demanding a complete loan waiver, state's Women and Child Development Minister Archana Chitnis said the government is contemplating a formula wherein it may waive interest on crop loans.

On the other hand, the Rashtriya Kisan Majdoor Sangh, which called a statewide bandh yesterday, held a press conference in Indore, where it alleged that not five but eight farmers had died in the police firing. A police Inspector Shyambabu Sharma allegedly suffered head injuries in stone-pelting by a mob at Guratiya Pratap square in Mandsaur district, the police said. We want farmers to be free from all kinds of loans and the government should implement Kisan Commission 2004 report from August 15, 2007.

The BJP, in turn, chose to blame the Congress. Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu told reporters on Wednesday: "Madhya Pradesh is an island of peace".

After the incident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in his tweet, had blamed the opposition party for instigating violence. News agency ANI reported that protesting farmers scuffled with Mandsaur district collector Swatantra Kumar Singh and chased away officials. Mandsaur city and Piplya Mandi area where the farmers were protesting have been put under curfew. But district official SK Singh said an investigation has been ordered after police denied that they had opened fire on the protesters.

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Added to their earlier demands for sops was the demand for action against those responsible for killing five protesting farmers in Mandsaur on Tuesday.

Six battalions were sent on Tuesday to assist the police administration in controlling the situation. He urged people not to pay attention to rumours, saying he is constantly in touch with officials."I am a farmer and understand your problems".

He also announced that the farmers' stir, originally slated to go on for 10 days up to June 10, will now continue beyond that date. The BJP has always done well for the farmers and have also paid heed to all their demands. Farmers in Guntur and Kurnool - and Khammam in Telangana - went on the rampage, burnt their crops and blocked highways when prices fell to nearly a quarter of last year's Rs 12,000 per quintal levels.

Apart from the loan waiver, the farmers are also demanding that they should be given Rs. 50 per litre of milk bought from them as they spend Rs. 37 per litre.