The Mandsaur firing (at Madhya Pradesh) on farmers is a political message from the ruling government. They are silencing people by firing them. Since 1st June onwards the farmers in Madhya Pradesh were protesting for loan waiving and minimum support price for their agricultural products. Both were reasonable considering the ongoing agrarian crisis. Droughts of 2014 and 2015 destroyed agrarian economies of most of the states in India. Those raising pulses and cotton were not able to repay a single penny of their loans. The promising harvest of last year was neutralized by the financial bomb called ‘demonetisation’ in November 2016 which led to the collapse of wholesale vegetable prices due to a severe cash crunch forcing many to dump their harvests or to sell their crop at wholesale rates substantially lower than declared minimum support prices (MSP). More than 1,600 farmers committed suicide in the state in 2016 (where it was more than 4000 in Maharashtra). The farmer suicides are 6076 between 2011 and 2015 in the state. Even after several days of protests, the state ministry never seriously addressed their demands which led only to worsening of situation.
Seven farmers were killed in police firing. The state’s Home Minister, Bhupendra Singh, said police had not shot at the protesters but anti-social elements in the crowd fired bullets. But due to public pressure the minister himself corrected it later and agreed that it was police fired. The cheapness of government machinery is exposed in both statements. Later District Collector said that there was no order on police to shoot. No one reported that police personnel fired for self protection. There were sufficient police for controlling the agitators too. It points out that political messages were given to police. Shooting several rounds and killing of several people cannot be an accident but require co-ordination behind the curtain.
This government is good in diverting such issues from public discussion too. There were many examples since May 2014. When economic slowdown happened, they brought demonetization citing terrorist threat. They discarded a discussion about common man’s contemporary real (not artificially created) issues under three years of this government by bringing beef ban. Agrarian crisis, Kashmir turmoil, worsening Indo-Pak relationship etc were discarded from public scrutiny. Regarding Mandsaur firing mainstream media (as expected) gave little space for this issue on the first day due to ‘formality’ and whole space was hijacked by attack on Sitaram Yechuri. It is not coincidental. The government is trying to create a vacuum between representatives and the represented which will result only in more suppressive measures from them.