A day after defending the previous BJP government's stand in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly on the June 2017 Mandsaur firing, the new Congress regime Tuesday took a u-turn claiming it had not given any clean chit and was still scrutinising the inquiry report into the incident.
Six farmers were killed on June 6, 2017 in Mandsaur district in police firing during protests over farm loan waiver and better crop prices.
The killing had been one of the mainstays of the Congress's campaign for the Assembly polls held in November last year and party chief Rahul Gandhi had kick-started it with a rally in Mandsaur on June 7, 2018.
In a written reply to a question in the state Assembly on Monday, MP Home Minister Bala Bachchan had said the firing was carried out by police in "self-defence" and "to protect government and private properties".
He had also said that the police action was in accordance with standard procedure laid down.
Congress MLA from Sailana, Harshvijay Gehlot, had, through a question, sought details of Mandsaur firing and the police officers responsible for it.
Mr Bachchan's written reply in the House stated, "Police, in absence of executive magistrate, carried out the firing in accordance to the standard procedure at Bahu Chowpaty on Mhow-Neemuch Road (under Pipliya Mandi Police Station of Mandsaur district) in self-defence and in a bid to protect the government and private properties."
In a u-turn from this written reply, Mr Bachchan, in a hurriedly called press conference on Tuesday, clarified, "The state government has not given any clean chit to those guilty of police firing and is still in the process of scrutinising the inquiry report on this incident."
He said, if required, the state government will order another inquiry in this regard.
Earlier in the day, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Digvijaya Singh expressed displeasure over Mr Bachchan's Assembly reply.
Talking to reporters, Mr Singh Tuesday said the "clean chit" given to the BJP by the minister, which in the process "justified" the firing on farmers in Mandsaur, was not acceptable to him.
Mr Bachchan, however, defended his answer in the Assembly and claimed it was made on the basis of the inquiry carried out by the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.
On Digvijaya Singh's comment, Mr Bachchan said, "I have spoken to Digvijaya Singh ji in the morning. No clean chit has been given to any person. Every person found guilty in this matter would be punished."
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, while addressing a public meeting at Pipliya Mandi of Mandsaur district in June last year, had promised that the Congress, within ten days of coming to power, would take strict action against those responsible for the Mandsaur firing.
The opposition BJP, meanwhile, on Tuesday said Mr Bachchan's answer in the Assembly was an "acceptance of truth" by the new Congress-led regime.
"The Home minister accepted the truth about the police firing. It was not a farmers'' agitation but Congress sponsored violence by anti-social elements. Mr Bachchan came forward to clarify only when super CM Digvijaya Singh scolded him," said MP BJP vice-president Vijesh Lunawat.
He also alleged that the Home minister considered himself "above the Constitution" for giving a clarification in a press conference on an issue which is meant to be discussed in the Assembly.