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3 Years On, 3 Govts Later, Nothing Has Changed for Mandsaur Farmers Since Death of 5 in Police Firing

Image for representation only. (Reuters)

Image for representation only. (Reuters)

On June 6, the couple, natives of Piplyamandi in Mandsaur, paid tributes to their son Abhishek Patidar who was among five killed in police firing during the farmers’ protest in Mandsaur in 2017.

Elderly farmer Dinesh Patidar and his wife Alka are ruing the fact that entire United States was enraged after the 'killing' of an innocent black man by some police officers.

On June 6, the couple, natives of Piplyamandi in Mandsaur, paid tributes to their son Abhishek Patidar who was among five killed in police firing during the farmers’ protest in Mandsaur in 2017.

"The public stood up to the administration in the US while my son and four others never got the justice," said Dinesh Patidar. Both Patidar and his wife have been keenly following the happenings in US after the killing of a black man.

The US has been witnessing massive protests over the death of African-American George Floyd's in police custody last week. Floyd died after a cop pinned him down to the ground with his knee on his neck for some nine minutes. All the while, Floyd kept saying 'I can't breathe'. His plea to let him go has become the protest slogan in the US.

"My second son got a government job and we got cash compensation but is this what we call justice and compensation for losing my son," Alka asked finding it difficult to control her tears. "If I had lost my son due to a natural calamity or an illness...but how can I control my sorrow as I lost him to bullets," she added.

Look at what is happening in the US but here my son’s death has been forgotten by all, she alleged.

Seeking MSP for their produce and a one-time farm loan waiver among other demands, farmers in western Madhya Pradesh had started protesting on June 1 , 2017. On June 6, the protests turned violent in Piplyamandi area of Mandsaur.

According to eyewitnesses, protesting farmers started torching vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits of the district on the fateful day.

As police opened fire, Kanhaiyalal Patidar, Bablu Patidar, Chain Singh Patidar, Abhishek Patidar and Satynarayan were killed. Another farmer Ghanshyam had later succumbed to the injuries sustained in police lathicharge.

Sandip, Abhishek’s elder son is now posted as a peon with Bhanpura tehsil. With an ageing Dinesh and Sandip in a government job, the family has now handed its ten bigha land on lease.

Low or negative returns were also among the reasons why they decided to discontinue their farming, affirmed Dinesh Patidar. The couple claimed that several leaders came and left but the farmers’ conditions have not changed even a bit as they are still making losses in agriculture. We don’t think the sacrifices made by our son and others made any difference, the couple said with dejection.

The family affirmed that politicians used to visit Mandsaur in herds after 2017 but their visits too have dried up of late.

Amrit Patidar, a native of Balapura village in Mandsaur and one of those who led the agitation from front affirms that nothing has changed in three years.

We held a small event to pay tribute to the departed souls in Piplyamandi but we have no idea how much longer we have to struggle to get our demands fulfilled, said Patidar asking when people like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi can flee with huge sums, can’t the government waive off farm loans in entirety once.

Six people died in 2017 but we got nothing as still MSP is not available for crops, he said.

Amid lockdown, vegetables were destroyed in farms and milk which fetches Rs 35-40 sold at Rs 20-22 a litre in Mandsaur, he claimed.

Though he affirmed that during the Kamal Nath government, cases slapped on farmers over agitation were withdrawn and farm loans upto Rs 50,000 were waived off.

Mahendra Patidar, president of Patidar community which was at the forefront during the 2017 farmers’ agitation, claimed that not even an FIR has been lodged in connection with the police firing on five farmers. "Ghanshyam Dhakad died due to custodial excesses and no probe was ordered as three governments changed hands in last three years," he said.

He went on to claim that administrative officers who were behind the police firing were not punished and some were even promoted.

Bharatiya Kisan Sangh leader and RSS functionary Mohan Pandey from Mhow (Indore) asked why the farmers’ conditions failed to change in three years even after massive protests. He said that the BJP government has the intent to benefit farmers but lacks the implementation strategy or the required experts in place.

On an average, the Centre doles out Rs 32,000 subsidy per hectare on heads including seeds, fertilisers, drip irrigation, cold storage and others and this should be immediately stopped as almost 85 per cent of this grant never reaches the farmers, Pandey claimed adding farmers should be offered training.

“If government staffers are entitled for all kinds of allowances and perks including telephone allowance, travel allowance, medical allowance, housing allowance and others, why can’t farmers get the same, don’t they require all these facilities,” asked Pandey.

The senior farmers’ leader backed one-time loan waiver and added that experts are required to make agriculture a profitable venture. Present day farmers aren’t like their older generation. They are aware like any other citizens and send their kids to English medium schools, claimed Pandey adding if the governments don’t mend their ways on farming soon, the farmers will make them bow down before them in future.

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