Police detains Rahul on his way to Mandsaur

State ready for talks, says MP CM
Report by: 
Agencies
Naya Gaon
8 Jun 2017

The farmer movement in Madhya Pradesh moved into high political gear today as Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and other senior party leaders were detained by police when they tried to make their way to Mandsaur, ground zero of the protests.

Police moved in to stop Rahul as he defied elaborate security arrangements and tried to force his way into the state from Naya Gaon in Neemuch, about 400 km from the state capital Bhopal. Surging crowds of Congress supporters followed him, shouting slogans like "Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan" and "Rahul Gandhi zindabad". Hundreds of Congress workers as well as senior leaders like Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot and Madhya Pradesh legislator Jaiwardhan Singh also courted arrest. They were taken to the guesthouse of a cement company, a police official said. The Congress vice-president, also accompanied by senior party leaders Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath and Janata Dal-United's Sharad Yadav, took the opportunity to hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Rahul told newspersons that Modi could waive loans worth Rs 1.50 lakh crore of the rich but not for farmers. "He can't give the right rates for their agricultural produce, can't give them bonus, can't give compensation... He can only give them bullets." Lashing out at Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government, he blamed both Modi and chief minister Shivraj Chouhan for the deaths of five farmers in Mandsaur on Tuesday.  There was high drama as the police tried to stop what had turned into a rally of sorts with Rahul leading from the front. When police tried to push him back, he ran into a field nearby from where he was detained. Police tried to stop them saying there was curfew in Mandsaur. At this, Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath protested, saying they wanted to go there to restore peace but were being stopped. Determined to meet the families of farmers in distress, the Congress leader had walked for close to 100 metres before entering Madhya Pradesh from Dalia village in Rajasthan's Chittorgarh district.

However, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan today said the state government was open for a dialogue to iron out the differences and once again appealed them to maintain peace. "The state government is always ready for talks with farmers. I appeal to the farmers to maintain calm. Only talks can end the differences," Chouhan said in a press statement here. "The state government is of farmers and public. I will continue to work for them," he said. The chief minister said the state government has taken a slew of measures in farmers' interest like procuring one kg of onion for Rs 8. "We (state government) are going to start buying Tur and Urad pulses from farmers at MSP from June 10," he said. Chouhan said some "anti-social elements" wanted to push the state into deep trouble.
"Such people will be dealt strictly," the CM said in the statement. He appealed to the agitating farmers to ensure the nefarious designs of the anti-social elements do not prevail. "I appeal to the farmers to join hands to work for the state's development," the MP chief minister said.

Anti-riot paramilitary forces today moved into violence-hit areas of Mandsaur, but the situation appeared to be improving in the troubled regions where farmers have been protesting for over a week demanding debt relief. As contingents of the Rapid Action Force (RAF) fanned out into the district, the state government shunted out Mandsaur collector Swatantra Singh and Superintendent of Police O P Tripathi. Curfew, imposed on Wednesday after escalating violence, was relaxed for two hours from 4 pm, as officials said the situation appeared to be improving. The police, however, said some areas were still tense.