Bhopal : Five people were killed and two injured in violence that broke out during a farmers' agitation in the Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, prompting the authorities to clamp curfew in the area.
Eyewitnesses said the victims suffered bullet wounds, but district authorities denied that there was any firing by the police on the protesters who torched vehicles and threw stones. Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh are protesting since June 1, demanding higher minimum support prices among other things.
Mandsaur Collector S K Singh confirmed the death of five people and said a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.
As tension prevailed, mobile internet service was suspended in Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.
Singh also said, "The police have told me that neither did they fire nor did they have any orders to fire."
Curfew has been imposed in Pipalya Mandi police station area of the district where the incident took place, while prohibitory orders restricting movement under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in rest of the district and in neighbouring Ratlam district.
An in-camera autopsy of bodies was held to ascertain the cause of death, the collector said. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the next of the kin of the deceased.
Trouble was reported from many parts of western Madhya Pradesh as farmers' stir continued for the sixth day on Tuesday. In Indore, police baton charged farmers who started throwing stones during a march. In Dhar, farmers blocked the Indore-Ahmedabad National Highway for about three hours. Shops in the local market remained closed all day in Neemuch city.
While the Congress called for a statewide bandh on Wednesday, Chouhan blamed the Opposition party for instigating the violence.
"I request the farmers to be patient. Do not fall into the trap of anyone. The government stands with farmers. We will solve all problems through discussion," Chouhan tweeted.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Ajay Singh, said, "All the claims of the chief minister have proved false so far. Now, the government is using bullets to suppress farmers' voice. Chouhan should resign immediately."