A farmers’ rally to Champaran, led by social activists Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar, was stopped on its way to Pipalia Mandi, where five peasants were killed in police firing last month. The activists and farmers had planned a meeting at the Bahi-Phanta area of Madhya Pradesh to condole the death of the five people and a subsequent rally from Pipalia Mandi. They were stopped on their way to Pipalia Mandi, around 17 km from the district headquarters, and taken in buses to the Dalauda area, district Collector O P Shrivastava told PTI. “We have not arrested them. We have just taken them to Dalauda where they had planned to spend the night,” he said.The collector said the district administration had not given permission to farmers’ bodies to hold a condolence meeting at Bahi-Phanta or to take out a rally from Pipalia Mandi, where the situation is still tense.
The farmers’ leaders were told that they were free to hold a meeting at any place in the district, barring Pipalia Mandi and Bahi-Phanta, Shrivastava said. Madhya Pradesh Kisan Sabha chief Jaswinder Singh, who was also taken to the Dalauda area, told PTI, “Now we are planning a vehicle rally from Dalauda to demand remunerative prices for agriculture produce and farm loan waiver, among other things”. Singh said the rally would pass through Maharashtra, Gujarat and reach New Delhi on July 18, where farmers will hold a demonstration in front of Parliament.
The vehicle rally will continue from the national capital and culminate at Champaran in Bihar on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, he added. Gandhi had led a peasants’ movement in Champaran a hundred years ago. Earlier, the farmers’ leaders held a public meeting close to Krishi Mandi, before moving towards Pipalia Mandi.
In their addresses, they demanded the immediate implementation of the M S Swaminathan Commission report on the welfare of farmers. Among other things, the commission had recommended fixing a minimum support price for crops at 50 per cent more than the cost of production. Meanwhile, Congress leaders, led by party general secretary Mohan Prakash and state unit president Arun Yadav, also staged a protest on the crisis in the agriculture sector at Malhargarh in the district.