AMID RISING FARMERS’ PROTESTS, MADHYA PRADESH CM SITS ON FAST FOR ‘PEACE’

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Amid the spiraling protest by Madhya Pradesh farmers, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan sits on an indefinite fast “until peace is restored” in Bhopal on June 10, 2017. IANS

The opposition has slammed Chouhan’s decision to go on fast. “Instead of indulging in gimmicks Chouhan should seriously address the problems of the farmers,” a Congress official said. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury says government has only bullets for protesting farmers

BHOPAL (IANS) Amid the spiraling protest by Madhya Pradesh farmers, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday began his indefinite fast here “until peace is restored”. The opposition has termed Chouhan’s fast a gimmick.

The opposition has slammed Chouhan’s decision to go on fast. “Instead of indulging in gimmicks Chouhan should seriously address the problems of the farmers,” a Congress official said.

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.”

Chouhan’s office will run from the BHEL Dussehra Maidan, where he is on fast, as an open forum where framers and people would be able to approach him.

Preparations began at BHEL Dussehra Maidan soon after Chouhan declared he will observe fast. A temporary residence and a House panel have also been erected, with the deployment of heavy forces at the venue.

After Chouhan reached Dussehra Maidan he addressed his cabinet and other leaders and also held a discussion with them. Chouhan was greeted by the ex-Chief Minister of the state Kailash Joshi.

“Chouhan was supposed to reach the venue at 11.00 a.m. but he got late. He was accompanied by the Principal Secretary and Secretary. The Chief Minister will hold discussions on different schemes launched by the government, including School Chale Hum, he would also review the Kharif produce, issues related to Hamidia Hospital and primarily talking to the farmers,” sources in the administration said.

 

Farmers’ protests that started in the state on June 1, demanding better prices for their produce and debt relief, turned violent on June 6 when five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur. The violence has spilled over to several other districts, including in the Malwa-Nimad area and even reached the state capital. Angry farmers have been blocking roads, vandalizing property and setting vehicles on fire.

BJP meeting farmers’ grievances with bullets: Yechury

Meanwhile CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Saturday accused the BJP-led central government of turning farming into a “loss-making profession” and meeting farmers’ genuine grievances with “bullets”.

“The essential point is this: We are not remunerating farmers adequately for their labour and produce. The BJP instead, is meeting their genuine grievances with bullets,” Yechury wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday, referring to the protests in Madhya Pradesh in which six farmers were killed in police firing.

Farmers have been protesting in Madhya Pradesh for debt waiver and hike in crop prices.

“The Minimum Support Price (MSP) is low, and Modi government has stopped state-level bonus. Market prices, lower than MSP, make farming a loss-making profession,” the Facebook post read.

The leader also said that farm loan waiver is a temporary measure and the central government needs to raise MSP and also allow states to announce bonuses and government should procure the produce.

“Allowing cheap imports while the farmer is increasing production, just to keep prices low for the traders is an anti-farmer move by the government,” the post read.

On Friday night, all entry and exit points to Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, which has become the epicenter of the farmers’ protests were sealed.

Farmers in Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana and Tamil Nadu have also threatened to hit the streets over their demands of better remunerations and loan waiver.

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