MP farmers' stir : CM begins indefinite fast for peace

After 28 hours of "peace fast", Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called it off this afternoon and assured farmers that their demands will be addressed.

Sometimes these protests turn fatal, as witnessed last week in the state of Madhya Pradesh, where five farmers were killed in clashes when police fired on a group of protestors.

Loans to small and marginal farmers have been written off with immediate effect, Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said. The party has instructed state BJP leaders to reach out to the farmers, interact with them and get feedback on their grievances, even as the CM announces sops for farmers.

The Chief Minister sat down on fast at the BHEL Dussehra Maidan here at 11 a.m.

"I will not end my fast till peace is restored in the state", Chouhan had said last evening after the protest by farmers was marred by violence in the state.

He announced that the state government will buy farm produce and give profitable prices to farmers.

According to information revealed by the Madhya Pradesh government in a written reply to Congress MLA Ram Niwas Rawat, at least 287 farmers, including agricultural labourers, have committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh in the past three months.

"We will help the farmers in any way we can, decisions will be taken and if need be, I will lay down my life for them", he said.

The movement turned violent two days later when five persons died in police firing on June 6 in Mandsaur. Chouhan was greeted by the ex-Chief Minister of the state Kailash Joshi, who wished him well.

The farmers' demands included a waiver on farm loans, free electricity, appropriate remunerative prices for their produce, grants for irrigation, pension for farmers aged 60 years and above and implementation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee recommendations.

"One thing that made me emotional was the number of our children that we lost in these protests", Chouhan told reporters on Sunday. He also thanked his supporters who accompanied him at Bhopal's Dussehra Maidan. People have given the protest of farmers a very bad shape.

The central government is in touch with states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, and sensitising them against any possible protest by farmers, officials said in Delhi.

The move comes as another farmer died in the violence-hit Mandsaur district, taking the death toll to six. "They were definitely not farmers but Shaitan (devils) and haivan (beasts) who tried to defame Madhya Pradesh and they will not be spared", Chouhan was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

  • Leroy Wright