Farmers in MP continue strike, milk, vegetable supplies hit

Shivraj Singh Chouhan

Shivraj Singh Chouhan

At least 18 persons were killed and 10 others injured in an powerful explosion in a firecracker factory in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, police said. Added to their earlier demands for sops was the demand for action against those responsible for killing five protesting farmers in Mandsaur on Tuesday.

The latest development came four days after Thackeray on May 2 publicly declared support for the farmers' strike and hours after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that the "biggest" farm loan waiver package in the state's history was coming for need and deserving farmers by October 31.

"On Monday night, farmers near the Dalauda Police station came out on the roads for protest and broke the gates of a railway crossing".

In many parts of Madhya Pradesh, the demonstrations have erupted in violence, with police men being assaulted with stones, vehicles being set on fire, and shops being vandalized and looted.

The farmers allege that the Madhya Pradesh Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) deliberately opened fire at them on Tuesday when they were protesting demanding that their loans be written off and their produce be bought by the government at a fair price. The farmers later also damaged rail tracks.

The farmers also gathered at Choithram mandi (market) in Indore to protest.

Senior officials, including Amit Sanghi and district collector Bharat Yadav, rushed to the spot and supervised rescue operations.

The farmers leaders comprised activists hailing from Puntamba in Ahmednagar district which the call for the ongoing state-wide farmers' strike, on since June 1, was given. Madhya Pradesh is one of several states that have suffered disappointing rains and crop failures in recent years.

"Farmers of Madhya Pradesh are peace-loving. On the one hand the government has unleashed repression on us, and on the other it is trying to defame us".

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