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MP: Ahead of Polls, Congress Relying on Mandsaur Police Firing to Mobilise Farmers in BJP Stronghold

Congress leaders took out a rally in Mandaur on Monday and cornered the BJP government over the issue.
MP: Ahead of Polls, Congress Relying on Mandsaur Police Firing to Mobilise Farmers in BJP Stronghold

Bhopal: The issue of the 2017 Mandsaur police firing, in which five farmers fell prey to the bullets while demanding Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farm produce, is again gaining ground in poll-bound Madhya Pradesh.

The opposition Congress is trying to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government from the Court to the streets. On Monday, when the High Court issued notice to the government over a petition to release the probe report, Congress MLA Jitu Patwari and former Mandsaur MP Minishi Natrajan held a Kisan Adhikar Sameelan at Pipariya Mandi in Mandsaur.

The Indore Bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday issued a notice to the state government while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Congress leader Paras Saklecha, who demanded to table the 2017 JK Jain Committee report that inquired into the Mandsaur Police firing.

Admitting the case, a bench of Justice SA Dharmadhikari and Justice PC Gupta issued notice to the state government after going through replies and rejoinders filed over the maintainability of the PIL and sought reply in four weeks.

On June 6, 2017, a group of farmers' protesting at Bahi Chaupati near Pipliamandi against the sale of onion at Rs 2 per kg turned violent and two farmers were shot dead by the CRPF personnel. When a group of people gathered at the police station to protest against the firing, three more agitators were gunned down by the police. One farmer was killed in Daloda, Mandsaur, in a police lathi charge.


The news of the farmers' killing spread like wildfire, and protests broke out across the state. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sat on a two-day-long fasting at Bhopal's BHEL ground, urging for peace, and promised justice to the agitating farmers. Three days later, the CM constituted a Jain Committee to investigate the incident. 

The committee submitted its report on June 13, 2018, but the government did not present it in the Assembly even after five years of the incident. Saklecha filed a PIL at Indore High Court, demanding the report be tabled in the Assembly.

"The government counsel, in its defence, stated that the Court can't direct the government to table the report about the argument on February 14, under section 3 (4) of the Act. It is on the wisdom of the government to table it or not. But the Court admitted the petition and issued the notice," said the petitioner's counsel Pratiyush Mishra.

When contacted, petitioner Saklecha told NewsClick that Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who met with the kin of the deceased farmers, promised to bring justice to the families. "Forget justice, the government is not willing to table the details of the incident even after five years of the incident. Thousands of farmers who were booked soon after the incident have been convicted for no reason," he added.

Apart from the Court, the Congress leaders carried out a rally in Mandaur on Monday and cornered the government over the issue. Out of the six farmers killed on June 6, four belong to the Patidar community, which dominates the region. 


In the election year, the Congress is once again making it a poll issue to mobilise farmers of the Malwa region, which have 66 Assembly seats. "The BJP is only fooling the farmers. They promised to double the income by 2022, but it has been reduced instead. They shot and jailed farmers for demanding MSP," said Congress leader Jitu Patwari.

"When I raised farmers' issues in the assembly and urged the government to raise the MSP of wheat to Rs 3,000 per quintal, they disqualified me from the Assembly," he said, adding, "The farmers will take revenge in the upcoming polls."  

Nonetheless, in the 2018 Assembly polls, Congress made Mandsaur police-firing a poll plank and promised to withdraw all cases filed against farmers if they came to power. But in the 15 months of their short-lived government, the Congress neither withdrew the cases nor tabled the report in the Assembly.

In the election almost 17 months after the incident, out of seven Assembly seats of Mandsaur and Neemuch districts, the BJP won six. 

Speaking to NewsClick, farmer leader Amritlal Patidar said, "Farmers are still angry. Last year, soybean and onion prices crashed; this year, garlic prices crashed, which are now being sold at Rs 2 per kg. It is the main reason for the farmers' anger. Nothing has changed for the farmers even after five years of Mandsaur firing, which became a flashpoint of the 2018 Assembly polls." 

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