In the aftermath of the death of at least five farmers in alleged police firing, the agitation in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur spread to other areas in the state.
Agitated farmers torched four chartered buses in Dewas on Wednesday afternoon. However, no casualties were reported in the incident.
The incident took place at Nevri Chowk in Sonkatch as the bus was ferrying passengers from Indore to Bhopal. The bus was stopped by the protesters.
They first pelted stones at the bus and vandalized it using iron rods.Later they set the buses on fire.
Madhya Pradesh farmers protest: Vehicles set on fire in Dewas pic.twitter.com/4Gbg4I4yKc— ANI (@ANI) June 7, 2017
According to police, they had to resort to lathicharge and use teargas shells to disperse the violent protestors.
Meanwhile, agitating protestors in MP's Sehore set ablaze several vehicles and also blocked roads.
Tension prevails in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur in the aftermath of the death of at least five farmers with protesters allegedly beating and chasing away the District Collector when he went to pacify agitators today. Mandsaur collector Swantra Singh had visited the site where agitators are protesting with the dead body of one of the farmers killed in yesterday's firing.
With appeals by the administration going unheard, the state government has sought the Centre's assistance in tackling the crisis. According to news agency ANI, the Madhya Pradesh Home ministry has written to the Union Home ministry seeking additional forces in Dewas, Ujjain, Mandsaur and Neemuch.
With incidents of violence continuing in areas of the state, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today made a fresh appeal for calm, saying the government was committed to the cause of the people and is always available for them. "I appeal to the farmers to maintain peace. I am always available for discussions with you. Please do not believe in rumours," he wrote on Twitter.
मैं निरंतर अधिकारियों के संपर्क में हूँ और स्थिति की जानकारी ले रहा हूँ। हमारी सरकार किसानों के लिए हमेशा कार्यरत है।— ShivrajSingh Chouhan (@ChouhanShivraj) June 7, 2017
Meanwhile, former MP from Mandsaur Meenakshi Natarajan was detained while she was on her way to meet the families of the deceased farmers, PTI reported. However, other Congress leaders are on their way to Mandsaur to meet the kin of the deceased. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to visit the restive town on Thursday, sources said.
The Madhya Pradesh bandh called by the Congress today affected some western parts of the state, but petrol pumps, markets and other establishments remained open in Bhopal.
The confusion over the firing continued today with authorities categorically denying involvement of police forces in the incident. Singh, who had yesterday said that a magisterial inquiry has been ordered to investigate the firing, today maintained that there "was no order to open fire."
The protesters also misbehaved with the Superintendent of Police (SP) today when who went to talk to them. Protesters were reportedly agitated over the delay in the visits by officials. They have also demanded the presence of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
At least five persons were killed on Tuesday as the farmers' agitation turned violent in Mandsaur. There are a beeline of burnt down vehicles on the Highway between Mandsaur and Neemuch, the ground zero of firing yesterday. Protesting farmers torched vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits of the district.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh, who has announced a compensation of to Rs 1 crore each to the families of deceased, has blamed the opposition Congress for instigating the violence.
Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh are protesting since June 1 demanding higher minimum support prices (MSP) among others.
Meanwhile, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has decided to visit the violence-hit district today. Congress has also given a call for bandh today across the state to protest the farmers' death in Mandsaur.
Police denies firing on protesters
Mandsaur collector S K Singh yesterday said a magisterial inquiry has been ordered. Singh said that police categorically told him that they did not fire at the protesters.
"Police have told me that neither did they fire nor did they have any orders to fire," Singh told PTI. In-camera autopsy of bodies was going on and the cause of death will be known after it, the collector said.
According to eyewitnesses, protesting farmers torched vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits of the district.
Trouble was reported from many parts of western Madhya Pradesh as farmers' stir continued for the sixth day on Tuesday. Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh are protesting since June one demanding higher minimum support prices (MSP) among others.
Congress calls for bandh
The state Congress and the Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Sangh have given a call for bandh across the state to protest the farmers' death in Mandsaur.
"We have called for a massive MP bandh tomorrow," state Congress chief Arun Yadav told PTI.
The main opposition party also constituted a committee of MLAs "to investigate" the Mandsaur firing incident. Singh and the state Congress chief would visit Mandsaur today.
BJP govt feeding farmers bullet, says Rahul Gandhi
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi hit out at the Shivraj government, saying it is at war with farmers and "feeding" them with bullets for demanding their rights.
"This government is at war with the farmers of our country. In BJP's new India, farmers demanding their rights get bullets in return," he said in a tweet.
Senior Congress leader Kamal Nath also attacked the BJP government in the state for using force on agitating farmers, whose demanded he said was "just and fair".
He said the Shivraj Singh government in Madhya Pradesh is crushing and attacking the same farmers on whose support he formed the government in 2013.
Nath also said that he has asked all Congress leaders and workers in the state to support the farmers in their agitation and help them get their rights.
The Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Ajay Singh, demanded resignation of Chouhan, saying the incident of firing in Mandsaur is shameful for a chief minister who claims to be a farmer's son.
"All the claims of the chief minister have proved false so far. Now the government is using bullets to suppress farmers' voice. Chouhan should resign immediately," the Congress leader said.
Senior Congress leader and MP Jyotiraditya Scindia also condemned the incident. The BJP government dealt with the agitation through bullets instead of talks, he said.
"This is a black day in the history of the state. It is shameful that the state government is crushing farmers' agitation. Farmers' demands are genuine," Scindia added.
AAP demands Chouhan's resignation
The Aam Aadmi Party has also demanded resignation of Shivraj Singh Chouhan over the deaths of six persons in the farmers' agitation in the state.
AAP Madhya Pradesh in-charge Gopal Rai said the incident reflected anti-farmer mentality of the BJP who remembered farmers only during elections.
"They have not been able to fulfill a single poll promise made during the elections," he said.