MP govt struggles to restore normalcy

Farmers' agitation: Cops scuttle Rahul's plan to reach Mandsaur

MP govt struggles to restore normalcy

The Madhya Pradesh government struggled to restore normalcy in violence-hit areas of the state, even as Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday made an attempt to reach Mandsaur, the epicentre of the farmers’ agitation.

Rahul travelled by air, car, motorcycle and foot from Delhi to Neemuch district of Madhya Pradesh via Rajasthan before he was detained and arrested in Naya Gaon, about 70 km from Mandsaur.

He slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the problems being faced by the farmers, evoking a sharp response from the BJP, which termed his visit a “photo opportunity”.

Amid the increasing political slugfest, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government shunted out the collector and superintendent of police of Mandsaur district, two days after five farmers were killed during the violent protest.

State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said that the five farmers were killed in police firing, a remark that assumes significance as the authorities had earlier claimed the police did not fire.

In a report submitted to the Centre, the state government said the protesting farmers set ablaze 25 trucks and two police vans along the Mhow-Neemuch highway on Tuesday.

Besides Mandsaur district, violence has spread to Dewas, Neemuch and Ujjain districts and some other parts of western Madhya Pradesh. The Rapid Action Force was deployed in Mandsaur. The police said “stone throwers and some anti-social elements” had also joined the protest.

Rahul, accompanied by a few senior leaders of the state and JD(U)’s Sharad Yadav, tried to make their way to Mandsaur through the Rajasthan border.

There was high drama as the police tried to stop what had turned into a rally of sorts. When the police tried to push Rahul, he ran into a field from where he was detained.

Neemuch SP Manoj Kumar Singh said, “Rahul Gandhi and around 250 Congress leaders were kept under preventive arrest under Section 151 of CrPC. We had informed them that there is a curfew and they should not go there. Despite this, they tried to move towards the area.”

They were later released at the border, Singh added.

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