Farmers' protest continued unabated in many parts of Madhya Pradesh on Monday with reports of violent demonstrations coming in from several districts even as the strike in Maharashtra, another BJP-ruled state, continued with calls for 'Maharashtra bandh' (shut- down) receiving a partial response.
In Madhya Pradesh, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who termed violent agitators as "anti-social elements and not farmers" said his government is taking all necessary steps to address the issues of agitating farmers.
"This government is farmers' government. All necessary steps have been initiated to address farmers' concerns," Chouhan said at a hurriedly-convened press conference here. A price stabilisation fund of Rs 1,000 crore would be set up to purchase the farm produce at the minimum support price (MSP), he said.
"People who are indulging in violence are anti-social elements and not farmers. They are trying to defame the farmers' protest," he added.
He has assured the farmers that government would buy onion at the MSP of Rs 8 per kg, he said, adding that "we have already started buying onion in Indore, Ujjain and Mandsaur districts". Procurement will continue till June 30, he said.
Similarly, some cereals too will be procured at MSP, he added.
Farmers are demanding better prices for farm produce, among other things.
Chouhan held talks with protesters' leaders on Saturday, but while two of the farmer outfits called off the agitation, others continued the stir.
Fresh protests and violent incidents were reported from Neemuch, Ratlam, Dhar, Jhabua and Dewas districts of western Madhya Pradesh on the fifth day of agitation on Monday.
At Neemuch, farmers staged a road blockade at Bhadbhadiya Four Lane square. Protesters pelted stones and damaged several two-wheelers as the police used lathi-charge to disperse them. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Chouhan were burnt.
"Two policemen were injured in stone-pelting. Police have registered a case against 200 persons and have arrested eight. 40 motorcycles were also seized," city superintendent of police (CSP) Abhishek Deewan said.
Shops remained closed in the market and supply of essential goods was affected at Jhabua district headquarters.
Protesting farmers damaged some shops after an altercation with vendors over keeping the shops closed at Karwad village of Jhabua district, said Petlawad police station in-charge Lokendra Singh Thakur.
During a bandh called by protesting farmers in Mandsaur, incidents of violence and clashes between farmers and traders were reported from several areas including Gandhi Chouraha, Kailash Marg, Bus Stand and Shukla Chowk.
Protesters forcing traders to close the shops led to clashes. The farmers also confronted traders at Piplya Mandi in the district. All the petrol pumps remained closed. Farmers stopped a truck and dumped bananas it was carrying on road at Barkheda Panth.
Mandsaur district collector Swatantra Kumar Singh however claimed that the situation was under control.
In Ratlam, police registered a case against 150 protesters, including district panchayat vice president DP Dhakad, for last night's violence in which police ASI Pawan Yadav sustained eye injury. Fourteen people were arrested.
In Dhar, protesting farmers emptied 12,000 litres of milk on road from a tanker at Borali toll naka on Mhow-Neemuch road.
Protesters pelted stones in Kshipra area of Dewas to force vendors to shut their outlets.
A rally was taken out by members of Bharatiya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh (BKMS) from Chapda in Dewas which culminated in Indore.
Markets in some parts of Indore faced shortage of vegetables, fruits and milk.
Call for 'Maharashtra bandh' (shut- down) on Monday during the ongoing farmers' strike received a partial response, with trucks carrying vegetables arriving in big markets like Pune and Navi Mumbai.
All the 15 Agriculture Produce Marketing Committees (APMCs) in Nashik district remained closed. A total bandh was observed in Puntamba in Ahmednagar district, the epicentre of strike.
However, in Solapur in western Maharashtra, APMCs remained open where farmers were seen bringing the produce.
In Sangamner in Ahmednagar district, farmers in Kolhewadi burnt an effigy of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Farmers in Chandwad tehsil of Nashik held a blockade on Manmad-Chandwad road. Some protesters threw onions on the road in Yeola tehsil of Nashik district. Farmers on bullock carts blocked the Nashik-Niphad-Chandwad road.
Solapur-Malegaon road and Nagpur-Tuljapur highway were also blocked by farmers.
In Vadgaon, Kolhapur district, Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna workers got into altercation with traders who refused to observe bandh.
Police provided `Z' category security to milk tankers coming to Mumbai from Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara via the Mumbai-Pune expressway.
Farmers are on the warpath since June 1 for demands including loan waiver and higher minimum support prices.
Despite the government announcing a loan waiver for marginal farmers on Saturday, the agitation has continued.
(With PTI inputs)