Tuesday 17 October 2017

Farm protests continue after five killed by gunshots at rally

Protesters burn vehicles and block a road in Pipalya, Madhya Pradesh (AP)
Protesters burn vehicles and block a road in Pipalya, Madhya Pradesh (AP)

Farmers blocked highways and held protests across a central Indian state on Wednesday, a day after five people were killed by gunshots at one rally.

Farmers in Madhya Pradesh have been protesting for several weeks, demanding better prices for crops and waivers from the state government for repayment of farm loans.

Three successive years of drought have pushed farmers into poverty, and hundreds have killed themselves because they were unable to pay off debts.

Farmers at a rally in the Mandsaur district of the state on Tuesday said police fired shots to disperse the rally. But district official SK Singh said an investigation has been ordered after police denied that they had opened fire on the protesters.

At protests in other districts, farmers blocked highways and disrupted traffic. Other protests were taking place in neighbouring Maharashtra and southern Tamil Nadu states. The Maharashtra government last week conceded to one demand by ordering a waiver of farm loans for small and marginal farmers.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power three years ago, had promised better crop prices and the waiving of farm loans to help farmers across the country. BJP is the ruling party in both Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra states.


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