5 farmers were killed in ‘police firing’: MP home minister

Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh today said that the five casualties during farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur occurred during police firing.

“Five persons were killed in police firing,” Singh told PTI over the phone.

The minister’s remarks assume significance as the authorities had been claiming that the police had not fired during protests at Pipliamandi in Mandsaur district in which five farmers were killed two days ago.

Minutes after the incident, the then Mandsaur Collector S K Singh had told PTI that the police told him categorically that “neither did they fire nor did they have any orders to fire”.

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

However, he said the situation was now peaceful in western Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile, contingents of Rapid Action Force (RAF) were today deployed in Mandsaur which has been on the boil since the violence two days ago.

Two companies of RAF, comprising around 100 men each, have moved into Pipliamandi, the police said.

While two companies of RAF have been posted in the district’s Garoth area, another two have been deployed along the Mwoh-Neemuch Highway to prevent any untoward incidents, they said.

The situation is tense but under control, the police said.

DIG Ratlam Range Avinash Sharma is camping in Pipliamandi where farmers, agitating for the last seven days for loan waiver and better crop prices, defied prohibitory orders yesterday, beat up officials and policemen and resorted to violence and arson.

Senior police officials have also been deployed to oversee the law and order situation in all sub-divisions of Mandsaur district, the official said.

The situation in western Madhya Pradesh is posing a major challenge for Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and providing a rallying point for the opposition parties.

The Shivraj Chouhan government had sought to cool tempers by announcing certain measures, including a loan settlement scheme for those cultivators who had defaulted on repayment of farm loan borrowed by them earlier.

The scheme will cover around six lakh farmers, with accumulated dues of Rs 6,000 crore, according to the government.