Shivraj Singh Chouhan ends his fast in Bhopal

Criticising Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's indefinite hunger strike over farmers' agitation, the Congress Party on Sunday said the fast is observed to divert the attention from the former's mistakes in handling the crucial situation.

In the last 10 days, farmers resorted to violence during their stir for various demands, including a complete loan waiver.

The chief minister yesterday began his indefinite fast and met a large number of farmers along with the kin of four of the five farmers killed in police firing on Tuesday in Mandsaur. The Chief Minister, who was on fast amid the ongoing farmers' crisis in his state, broke the fast by drinking coconut water.

"I will be available at the Dussehra Maidan". A state minister standing behind him on the dais prompted him to say that Madhya Pradesh farmers will not take part in the three-hour blockade of national highways on June 16.

After protests became rough across the state post the firing, the Chief Minister began what came to be dubbed a "peace fast".

A PTI report from Mandsaur said Madhya Pradesh police arrested - and subsequently released - 30 activists, including Medha Patkar, Yogendra Yadav and Swami Agnivesh, in Ratlam, while they were on their way to Mandsaur to meet families of farmers killed in police firing.

During the later stage of this 10-day stir, the flames of protest singed the state capital as protesters torched a truck and some other vehicles on the Bhopal-Indore highway.

Earlier on June 4, the chief minister had claimed after a meeting with representatives of agitating farmers at Ujjain, that differences with cultivators were ironed out with the RSS' farmers outfit Bharatiya Kisan Sangh even announcing that the strike had been withdrawn.

Earlier in the day, he affirmed that he has always tried to do a lot for the farmers. Five farmers had died on the spot, and one - who was allegedly detained by the police - later in the hospital. Prohibitory orders under CrPc Section 144 are in place in the district. "I know of the bumper crop production that has sent the prices crashing down in the state".

In retaliation, the police opened fire at the farmers, leaving five dead, according to official count.

  • Leroy Wright