After days of denying security forces' culpability in the death of five farmers in violence-hit Mandsaur, the Madhya Pradesh government finally admitted that they were killed by police bullets, following a complete breakdown of crowd control measures in the violence.
"It was investigated and proved that the deaths of the farmers happened because of police firing. Initially, the details provided to me were that police firing did not cause the deaths. I later amended my statement after receiving the correct information," state home minister Bhupendra Singh was quoted by the Telegraph as saying.
Inspector General of Police (law and order), Makrand Deuskar, told the paper that according to preliminary investigation, it seems "the police did open fire".
In a report to the Central home ministry, the MP government said police tried and failed to control the mob. It resorted to lathicharge and lobbing teargas shells, but the farmers indulged in "arson, vandalism and destruction of public property", according to Times of India. They had even tried to uproot railway tracks, the report said.
Pipliamandi Town Inspector, Anil Singh Thakur, who had allegedly fired at the farmers, has now been removed from field duty, according to reports.
PTI added that anti-riot paramilitary forces were moved into violence-hit areas and contingents of Rapid Action Force (RAF) fanned out into the district, even as the state government transferred Mandsaur collector Swatantra Singh and Superintendent of Police OP Tripathi.
In Naya Gaon, about 70 kms from Mandsaur, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by senior Congress leaders and the JD(U)'s Sharad Yadav, was detained by the police when he tried to reach Mandsaur to address the farmers.
Farmers in Mandsaur have been protesting since June 1 demanding loan waiver and better crop prices. The government has brought in Manoj Kumar Singh from Neemuch as the new SP of Mandsaur. The collector of Shivpuri, O P Srivastava, who took charge of the district, said he faced a challenging situation.
The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh has announced certain sops to calm frayed nerves, including a settlement scheme for cultivators who had defaulted on repayment of loans.