There is something sinister that the Madhya Pradesh Government wants to hide, alleged a fact-finding team denied permission to visit Mandsaur to inquire into the death of seven farmers at Mandsaur last week.
The team, comprising among others Yogendra Yadav, Medha Patkar and Swami Agnivesh, was stopped and arrested at Ratlam on Sunday and prevented from proceeding farther.
Speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday, Yogendra Yadav said this was the first time he had been denied permission to speak to the family members of the deceased.
“I have been part of 10-15 such teams formed to inquire into police firings and each time, we were able to reach the spot within 24 hours. But this is the first time the police is not allowing teams to reach the spot,” he exclaimed.
Team members accused the RSS-affiliated Bharatiya Kisan Sangh of vandalism in order to sabotage the farmers’ peaceful movement.
They had reasons to believe that the police firing at Mandsaur was unprovoked and procedures laid down before firing were not followed. Not all the killed died of bullet injuries and some were shot on the chest.
An independent citizens’ tribunal comprising senior members of the judiciary, administration and journalists is being formed to look into the complaints since the state government appears determined to conceal the truth, they informed.
Blaming the Shivraj Singh Chouhan Government squarely, Yogendra Yadav pointed out that farmers in the state had been reeling under drought-like conditions during the last two seasons. But the state government did little to come to their rescue.
But a good monsoon last year led to a bumper crop. But while demonetisation dealt a blow to traditional marketing outlets, demand also slumped. Till last month, there were restrictions on cash withdrawals from banks, they pointed out.
In addition the government inexplicably lowered the Minimum Support Price (MSP) for various crops.
In order to avail the MSP, a farmer has to get registered with the government after furnishing his Aadhar number. Then half the amount is paid to farmers in cash and the other half through banks.
In Madhya Pradesh, banks illegally began to deduct outstanding loans (crop loans or personal loan to buy two-wheelers, etc) owed by farmers from the remaining MSP deposited into the farmers’ account by the government. Although deducting loan arrears from Savings’ accounts is illegal, the state government allowed banks to do this, team members alleged.
What’s more, if a farmer sells off wheat produce above 50 quintals , the Madhya Pradesh Government has been cancelling their BPL cards, considering them as rich farmers, said Yogendra Yadav.
“MP is projected as a success story in the agricultural sector. But the problem with this country is that the agriculture policy is production oriented and not producer oriented,” he lamented.
Showing the price list of several food-crops at Neemuch Mandi in MP, dated May 22, he stated:
“Earlier the state government would give bonus on the production of certain crops, but Modi government made the state government to stop the practice,” he lamented.