Bhopal: The Congress which had repeatedly attacked the then BJP government over police firing in Mandsaur in which six farmers were killed in 2017 is now backtracking on the issue after coming to power.
A controversy ensued when the Kamal Nath government, in a written reply, told the House on Monday that police had opened fired in self-defence.
It was an all-Congress affair as the query was also posed by party MLA Harsh Vijay Gehlot on the first day of Madhya Pradesh assembly’s budget session on Monday.
The proceedings were adjourned after paying tribute to CRPF jawans who were killed in a suicide attack last week in Jammu & Kashmir’s Pulawama district. However, the Congress government had submitted a written reply in the House.
The Mandsaur police followed all guidelines while opening fire in self-defence and trying to protect private and government property on June 6, 2017, said home minister Bala Bachchan in the reply.
As the issue snowballed into a major controversy, the minister told reporters, “I wish to clarify we haven’t assigned clean chit to anyone.” He said the state government was examining the Jain Commission report on the firing and if needed, a re-probe might be ordered.
The home minister said documents compiled by the previous BJP government were used for responding to the query in the assembly.
Amid queries on the issue, Bachchan said the Congress government was determined to initiate stringent action on the issue.
However, Congress MP and former chief minister Digvijay Singh said, “The home minister apparently has given a clean chit to the BJP government… The minister has tried justifying the Mandsaur firing and we won’t accept this at any cost.”
A BJP leader said, “The Congress kept screaming about atrocities on farmers till the time it came to power with promises of jobs, investigations, jail terms and even capital punishment over the Mandsaur incident. Once in power, the party is saying policemen were not guilty and opened fire on famers in self-defence.”
Amid growing criticism, Nath said his government had not yet given a clean chit to those involved in the firing and justice would be meted out to the farmers.
During a massive farmers’ agitation in 2017, police had opened fire on the ryots in Mandsaur’s Piplya Mandi killing five of them. Another peasant who suffered injuries later died in hospital.