Bhopal, June 9: Parts of Madhya Pradesh remained tense on Friday as farmer protests seeking debt relief and hike in crop prices spread across the state after a protester injured earlier in a clash with police died, taking the toll to six.
The deceased was identified as Ghanshyam Dhaakad, 30, who was injured when a policeman hit him on his head with a baton during a protest in Daloda village in Mandsaur, the worst-hit district in the ongoing agitation, the victim’s father said.
Mandsaur Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh told ; that Dhaakad was injured “during clashes between protesters and police and was taken to an Indore hospital for treatment where he succumbed to his injuries late on Thursday night”.
Even as Mandsaur city and Piplia Mandi remained relatively calm on Friday when curfew was relaxed from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the agitation spread to other parts of the state.
All entry and exit points to Mandsaur were sealed.
Protesters threw stones at police and blocked the Indore-Bhopal highway, setting a truck on fire after they were prevented from entering Bhopal for a planned sit-in in the state capital.
“No person was injured during the protests on Friday. The situation is under control,” Bhopal (North) Police Superintendent Arvind Saxena said.
Some vehicles were also damaged on the highway that remained closed for the traffic for the entire day on Friday. Stone-pelting protests were also reported from Dhar district where protesting farmers set on fire a private jeep.
Farmers also gathered at the Sehore toll plaza on the highway and erected barricades and stopped the traffic, causing a severe jam and inconvenience to hundreds of commuters. They damaged the toll plaza property and even set some vehicles on fire.
Protesting farmers in neighbouring Shajapur district were cane-charged and tear-gassed after a mob threw rocks at police.
Farmers in Madhya Pradesh began a 10-day protest on June 1 to press for loan waivers and fair price for their produce. The protests turned violent on June 6 when five farmers were killed in police firing in Mandsaur.
The violence then spread to the districts of Neemuch, Indore, Khargone, Ujjain, Sehore, Raisen and Harda.
Meanwhile, farmer Krishan Meena, 40, from Raisen district killed himself after he allegedly failed to pay off his loans and electricity bills, his family said.
However, police officer Abhay Nema said he committed suicide because he was “not keeping well for the past five years”. A judicial inquiry has been ordered.
Meena, who owned seven acres of land in Sigonia village, according to the family, had taken a loan of Rs 10.5 lakh from a private bank. He also owed Rs 500,000 to a local moneylender.
In Delhi, farmer leaders and unions held a protest and warned the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government of political consequences if it failed to fulfill its promises of adequate remuneration to agriculture produce.
Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary of Bharatiya Kisan Union, said the BJP, during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, promised farmers minimum 50 per cent profit over the cost of production.
“The rate farmers are getting for their produce is much lower than the input cost. For example, farmers spent about Rs 1,600 to produce a quintal of wheat but the government’s rate was around Rs 1,200,” he said.
“Now, the government does not even want to discuss its promise of 50 per cent profit over the input cost. Farmers are already under financial burden and the government’s apathy is further intensifying it. How one can expect farmers to remain calm in such situation?”
Farmers in Maharashtra, Bihar, Haryana and Tamil Nadu have also threatened to hit the streets over their demands of better remunerations and loan waiver.