Curfew has been lifted for 12 hours in the city of Mandsaur, the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation in Madhya Pradesh, ANI reported. No curfew will be imposed after 8 pm in Mandsaur, Section 144 will continue. Curfew in Pipliya Mandi will remain in the night, SP Mandsaur told ANI. Along with the relaxation in curfew, internet services are also likely to resume from tomorrow morning. Earlier in the day, some shops reopened and locals stepped out to stock essentials such as vegetables and milk, Press Trust of India reported. The report added that normalcy was returning and there was no report of any untoward incident. “If the situation remains normal, the curfew will be withdrawn tomorrow,” District Collector O P Srivastava said. Five people were killed in the 10-day long protests by farmers over low prices for their crops on June 1. The Mandsaur-Neemuch region, about 300 km from the state capital Bhopal, became the epicentre of the gathering storm of farmer distress. Later, agitation also spread to some other parts of the state.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan-led Madhya Pradesh government has announced an ex-gratia amount of Rs 1 crore for the kins of those who died in the protests. Also, one member of the family would be given a government job. Earlier in the week, angry farmers blocked roads and set many vehicles on fire. Earlier today, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sat on an indefinite fast at Bhopal’s Dussehra Maidan for “restoration of peace”. He has appealed to farmers to come to Dussehra Maidan and have a dialogue with him. Addressing media today, Chouhan said, “Your (farmers’) labour won’t go waste. I know of the bumper crop production that has sent the prices crashing down in the state. I know your (farmers) problems,” he added.
The Opposition has slammed Chouhan’s decision to go on fast. Madhya Pradesh Congress state president, Arun Yadav said, “This fasting is a farce being played out by Chouhan. He has never considered visiting the families of the dead farmers in Mandsaur and also the houses of the 25 persons who died in a blast at a fireworks factory.”
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Agriculture Minister Gauri Shankar Bisen told reporters that farmers cannot be given a loan waiver. “The demand for loan waiver to farmers in Madhya Pradesh holds no justification as we are taking back loans at a rate of 10 per cent less than the principal amount. When we did not impose any interests on loan, how can it be waived off,” Bisen said.