Bhopal: Family members of the farmers who were killed in police firing during protests in Mandsaur met Shivraj Singh Chouhan at Dussehra Maidan in Bhopal, where the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister is sitting on an indefinite fast.
The victims' families asked the CM to punish the people responsible for the deaths and also requested him to break his fast.
Chouhan, however, said he would remain steadfast till peace is restored in the state. “I am fasting for peace in the state... and I will continue with my fast till peace returns to the state,” Chouhan told the victims' kin. He refused to make any promises and told them that the government will decide on the future course of action as per the situation.
Meanwhile, curfew was on Saturday lifted from Mandsaur city as the district, the epicentre of the farmers' agitation in Madhya Pradesh, remained peaceful though the restrictions on assembly would remain in force.
The district administration also said the Internet services in the district, which were suspended on June 5 after outbreak of violence, will be restored by Sunday morning.
As the protests entered the tenth day, the Chief Minister, with wife Sadhana on his side, had commenced his indefinite fast around 11 am on Friday at a ‘pandal’ erected in the BHEL Dussehra Maidan for restoration of peace.
Chouhan has promised farmers a profitable price for their produce, but ministers in his government have refused that a crop loan waiver, one of the major demands of the protesting farmers, is on the anvil.
“I know of the bumper crop production that has sent the prices crashing down in the state. I know your (farmers) problems,” he said while addressing a gathering that included cultivators.
“The state government stands firm with the farmers. We are going to buy the farm produce and give profitable prices for it,” he assured.
The farmers are, among other things, demanding satisfactory prices for their farm produce. Their stir turned violent when five persons died in police firing, while six others were injured on Tuesday in Mandsaur district.
“We have already bought huge quantity of onions at Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 8 per kg. Each onion of farmers will be bought. Your labour won't go to waste,” the CM said.
"We are going to buy different varieties of pulses at MSP," the chief minister said.
Chouhan said his government was pro-farmer and recalled efforts underway to make farming a profitable business in MP.
He said the irrigation facility has increased manifold and due to abundant water, farmers were reaping rich harvest.
The BJP leader also hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trying hard to make agriculture a profitable venture.
Chouhan said the government had extended Rs 4,800 crore as relief amount to farmers when their soybean crop was destroyed last year. Similarly, Rs 4,400 crore went as crop insurance compensation sum last year.
The Opposition, however, has dubbed Chouhan's fast as a "nautanki" (drama or empty theatrics).
“Chouhan should tell people whether his so called fast was a 'nautanki' or an act of repentance for his misdeeds that set the state on fire,” state Congress chief spokesman K K Mishra said on Saturday.
“Though he is trying to send a message that he is doing ‘Gandhigiri’ (Gandhian way of protest), it is not so. He neither sat beneath the statue of ‘Bapu’ nor garlanded Mahatma's statue before launching his 'nautanki',” he added.
"After all, against whom has he started his fast at Dussehra Maidan? He should remember that (demon king) Ravana is burnt every year at the Dussehra Maidan. His Nautankibaji won't work as he has done such drama in the past against the UPA-2 government," he said.