Bhopal: The judicial probe constituted after six deaths and violence during farmers’ agitation in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, in June last year, has said that neither police nor the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel followed the police firing code of conduct before opening fire on the mob. Instead of firing on the foot, as per the law, they fired on the body, which led to the death of five farmers.
However, the report gave a clean chit to the police and CRPF.
“Going by evidence submitted to the commission and circumstances prevailing at that time, firing was absolutely necessary (nitant awashayak) and justified (nyaysangat). The police did not keep in mind that they should have fired at legs first. Untrained police officials lobbed tear gas shells; that’s why the crowd could not be dispersed,” said the report.
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Two protesters had died in police firing at Bahi Parswanath and three outside Pipliyamandi Police Station on June 6, 2017.
The JK Jain Commission, constituted to probe the infamous Mandsaur firing, has submitted a 13-page report to the state government on June 11, 2018, after a nine-month delay from its actual deadline September 11, 2017.
The report has observed that anti-social elements took over the agitation near Bahi Parswanath village because none of the leaders, who had instigated them to take to the streets demanding fair prices for produce and loan waiver, were present. Moreover, the report rubbishes the allegation that people in the crowd were armed with country-made weapons and pistols.
The report, divided into 54 points, has noted that the weak inelegance and miscommunication between police and district administration tuned this agitation violent. The administration was unaware of the demands of the farmers, despite the massive protest and violence on June 5 in Mandsaur. Moreover, the administration neither showed any interest to hear the farmers out nor took any action against the people who were involved in the June 5 violence.
Interestingly, the probe panel has also given a clean chit to the suspended collector of Mandsaur, Swatantra Kumar and Superintendent of Police, OP Tripathi, denying their direct role with the incident and blamed their bad tuning. However, the report later mentioned that the orders of lathi-charge and firing were given by the district administration.
Equipped with sticks, iron rods and petrol bottles, some people in the crowd and indulged in a chakka jam at Bahi Parswanath. They subsequently encircled eight CRPF personnel who tried to stop them.
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The report said that the anti-social elements pelted stones and petrol bombs at CRPF personnel and beat them up. When Constable Vivek Mishra, whose trousers and shoes caught fire, bent to douse the flames, the crowd pinned him to the ground and tried to snatch his rifle. Meanwhile, the mob also pinned Constable Uday Prasad to the ground and an attempt was made to snatch the rifle of Constable Arun Kumar.
As per the report, the crowd shouted that he be killed. Despite the warning from ASI B Shaji and constables Vijay Kumar and Arun Kumar to release the two constables, the crowd did not give in, forcing them to fire. Later, Vijay Kumar fired two rounds, which led to the death of Kanhaiyalal and Poonamchand, alias Babloo. ASI Shaji fired three rounds and constable Arun Kumar fired two rounds. The report stated that CRPF personnel did not suffer injuries because they wore helmets and other protective gears.
The panel further observed that the incident began at Bahi Parswanath. While the police reached at 12:20 pm, the firing at Bahi Parswanath begun between 12.25 pm and 1 pm, led to the two deaths. The injuries sustained by the five protesters made the crowd angry, which resulted in the attack of the Pipliyamandi Police Station about 1.5 km away.
The report said that 1,500 to 2,000 people picketed the police station, set vehicles on fire, and damaged the CCTV cameras and computers. The mob even damaged a staff quarter behind the police station. When the protesters did not budge, the police lobbed 16 teargas shells and later fired at them, killing Chainram, Satyanarayan and Abhishek. The commission said that there was no option for the police but to fire at protesters. Once the crowd dispersed, the firing stopped, it noted.
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After the scuffle between farmers and police, five farmers – Babloo Jagdish Patidar, 25, Kanhaiyalal Patidar, 38, Chenram Ganpatlal Patidar, 22, Abhishek Dinesh Patidar, 25, Satyanarayan Mangilal Gayri, all from Mandsaur district, died. Later the state government announced Rs 1 crore ex-gratia to the deceased’s families.
- The important evidence of burnt uniforms and shoes of CRPF personnel was seized after a delay of 13 days.
- The call for agitation – from June 1 to June 10 – was given by the Mandsaur district unit of Bharatiya Kisan Union and Rashtriya Mazdoor Sangh. Farmers were exhorted not to let vegetables and milk enter Mandsaur. No memorandum had been given to the collector. The demands were statewide and there were sporadic incidents from June 1 to June 3.
- Steps taken by the district administration were not adequate, the commission observed. “There was no communication between farmers and officers that’s why the administration was in dark about demands and solutions and it did not make effort to find out. The administration was in dark about anti-social elements and that’s why they controlled the agitation. There is no evidence to suggest that the district administration made effort to arrest anti-social elements before the agitation,’’ the judge observed.
- The commission was given three months to submit the report. It examined 211 witnesses, including 26 government employees. It was given three extensions.
- The steps taken by the police was directly given by the magistrate.
- The chakka jam begun at 10:30 pm while the police reached two hours late and soon after the lathi-charge and firing began.
- There was a huge miscommunication between Collector and SP.
According to the reports published by the media, opposition party Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have demanded that the JK Jain Commission report be immediately made public. State Congress chief Kamal Nath alleged that the report was on expected lines.
Commenting over the issue, Kamal Nath asked, “Protesters have been identified as the anti-socials, not farmers. Does the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government agree with it? If they were anti-social elements, who got the compensation? Farmers or anti-social? Does the CM believe that firing in self-defence was justified and necessary? If the anti-socials gheraoed the police station, how come it was the farmers who died in the firing? If the police and CRPF are not responsible, who should be blamed for farmers’ deaths?”
He further said that the Jain Commission report of Mandsaur firing is the reflection of the anti-farmer face of the state government. The report is a sham and it is nothing but a game of saving the culprits of the issue, “The way the report was delayed and the term of Commission was extended, it shows that the government was eager to save the culprits of the case, so that the justice remained far from the victims of the case.”
Citing a newspaper report, Madhya Pradesh AAP convener Alok Agrawal demanded that the probe panel's report should made public without delay.
"According to a report published in a Hindi newspaper today, the (Jain Commission) report has given a clean chit to police. We demand that the panel report be made public immediately," Agrawal said
"We want the guilty punished. Are farmers not humans? Are their lives worthless? It is shameful that no one is found guilty for the killings though many serious lapses have been pointed out in the report," Agrawal claimed.