Opposition ups the ante over farmer deaths

Our Bureau Agencies New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 08, 2017


bl08_farmers protest

M.P. govt admits police firing claimed lives; Rahul detained en route to Mandsaur

Opposition parties have stepped up their agitation against the BJP governments at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh, after police firing earlier this week claimed the lives of six protesting farmers in Mandsaur.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who was detained in M.P. while on his way to the State’s Mandsaur district, accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of waiving the loans of the rich, but not those of farmers facing agrarian distress.

Meanwhile, farmer organisations cutting across political affiliations are planning nationwide protests.

Rahul said both Modi and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan were responsible for the deaths of farmers in Mandsaur. He claimed Modi waived loans of the rich, worth ₹1.50-lakh crore, but not for farmers.

“He can’t give the right rates for their agricultural produce, can’t give them bonus, can’t give compensation... He can only give them bullets,” the Amethi MP said.

Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government conveyed to the Centre that the five farmers who died earlier in the week, were victims of police firing, ending the confusion over who was responsible for their deaths.

‘Farmers guilty of arson’

In a report submitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Madhya Pradesh government said the protesting farmers, demanding loan waiver, had allegedly set ablaze 25 trucks and two police vans along the Mhow-Neemuch highway on Tuesday.

The police tried to control the mob with a lathicharge and then by lobbing tear gas, it said. However when the farmers continued with the violence — “arson, vandalism and destruction of public property” — the police fired at them, killing five farmers and injuring eight others, the report said. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said some forces were instigating the agitators and added that the issue was under investigation.

‘They were instigated’

“I feel there is no need of security forces when it comes to farmers’ protest. But as per the available information, there are some forces instigating the agitation (in MP). As the State government has ordered an enquiry into the matter, we should wait for its findings,” he told reporters in Mumbai.

Farmer organisations across the country protested over the incident. Seven outfits, including the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU)-Ugrahan, the BKU-Dakunda, the Krantikari Kisan Union and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee, will stage sit-ins at all district headquarters in Punjab.

CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, too, slammed the Centre for its attitude to farm issues. “Are we all paying the Krishi Kalyan Cess to the Central government so that it can buy more bullets to fire on farmers?” he asked. “Forget getting 1.5 times the cost of inputs as promised by Modi, the farmer is unable to even earn what he was earning so far,” he added.

Published on June 08, 2017
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