Mandsaur Farmer Deaths: Police Fired In Self-Defense, Says Probe Report

Mandsaur Farmer Deaths: The Madhya Pradesh government had initially denied that five farmers were killed due to police firing.

Farmers' protest demanding better crop prices took a violent turn in Mandsaur last year. (File)

Mandsaur: The police fired in self-defense in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur where five farmers were killed last year, says the report of an investigation set up by the state government. The report says the police firing on June 6 last year was "necessary" and "legal".

Protests by farmers demanding better prices for their crops and a loan waiver took a violent turn in June last year as the police opened fire on the farmers. Not a single case was lodged against the police.

The Madhya Pradesh government had admitted that five farmers were killed due to police firing on 6 June 2017 after strongly denying it earlier. A sixth one died the next day from injuries allegedly due to police action.

Retired high court judge JK Jain, who led the inquiry commission that recently submitted its report, however, suggested that the Mandsaur district administration did not take enough steps before the violence broke out.

The report says there was a communication gap between the farmers and officials.

The administration wasn't aware of their demands and did not make any effort to find out, it says.

But the report is believed to have taken in account the fact that the district administration wasn't in a position to address demands that farmers should get better prices or a loan waiver.

On the two incidents of violence, the report says anti-social elements infiltrated the leaderless group of farmers that were protesting on 6 June, attacked seven personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and tried to snatch their firearms. Two people were killed in firing by CRPF personnel.

A few kilometres away, an angry group of people headed to the police station and threatened to burn down the police station. Police opened firing after tear gas shells and a baton-charge failed to disperse the mob. Three people were killed and an equal number injured in this incident.

The Justice Jain inquiry commission was instituted to probe the violence and was meant to submit its report within three months. It took almost a year.

Justice Jain's report was submitted a few days back, nearly a fortnight after Congress chief Rahul Gandhi addressed a public meeting in Mandsaur to commemorate the first anniversary of death of farmers in police firing. In his speech, Mr Gandhi had promised action against officials who responsible for the death of the six farmers within 10 days of the Congress coming to power in Madhya Pradesh in state elections later this year.
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