Bhopal to Ujjain and now Varanasi: Plight of Karnataka farmers detained in Madhya Pradesh

Under detention for over 48 hours now, the farmers were en route to join the 'Delhi Chalo' protest organised by various farmers associations.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 14, 2024 | 11:30 AMUpdatedFeb 14, 2024 | 3:13 PM

Karnataka farmers being shifted to Varanasi

Farmers from Karnataka who have been under detention for two days in Madhya Pradesh are being shifted to Varanasi, in Uttar Pradesh in a special train on Wednesday, 14 February.

The farmers continue to be under preventive custody, for the last 48 hours, but in different cities of Madhya Pradesh.

With neither the ruling Congress government in Karnataka nor the ruling BJP government in Madhya Pradesh coming to their assistance, farmers are being moved from one place to another without consent.

Around 100 farmers including 30 women farmers were travelling to Delhi to take part in the “Delhi Chalo” protest organised by various associations — including the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha — against the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led-Union government.

The protesters are expected to urge the government to fulfil various demands, including a law assuring minimum support price (MSP) to all farm produce.

‘Union government’s dictatorship’

Speaking with South First on Wednesday, Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association’s Mysuru-Chamarajanagar districts wing general secretary Baradanpura Nagaraj said: “We have no idea what is happening with us because local police are shifting us to a new place every day.”

He added: “Our only demand is to let us head towards Delhi, but they are denying the permission and restricting us. They are offering us a return journey to Karnataka, but we also not budging, we will continue to protest until our demands are fulfilled”

“We have been protesting for the last 48 hours and they continue to keep us under detention. This is nothing more than the Union government’s dictatorship over agrarians,” Nagaraj fumed.

He further said: “The police woke us up (in the morning) and brought us to the railway station. After coming to the railway station, they informed us that they were moving us to Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi. The local police had booked a mere half a compartment for 100 farmers. After we protested, they made sufficient sitting arrangements in the train.”

“It takes 27 hours to reach Varanasi from Ujjain. We are still in Madhya Pradesh and police are accompanying us but there are no signs of Uttar Pradesh yet,” added Nagaraj.

Also Read: Madhya Pradesh police shift Karnataka farmers to Ujjain, keep them in detention

Detained in Bhopal

The farmers were detained first in Bhopal on Monday and kept under detention at a private convention centre for over 24 hours in Bhopal City

When contacted, Bhopal police told South First, the farmers were detained over a “CBI case” refusing to divulge more details.

The farmers from Karnataka staged a demonstration on Monday against the Union government and the Bhopal police for taking them under preventive custody at a private convention centre in Bhopal and restricting them from travelling to Delhi.

The farmers have alleged that not only was one of them — a woman farmer — injured at the hands of the police but that she also did not receive proper treatment.

While the farmer unions’ protest is underway in Delhi, the Madhya Pradesh Police took them to Ujjain on the morning of Tuesday, 13 February, and the local police have kept them under detention at a private convention hall on the outskirts of the city.

Baradanpura Nagaraj told South First on Monday: “The Bhopal Police detained us while we were sleeping in the train.”

He added: “They did so without producing any warrant or giving the reason for our detention. The police are claiming that they have taken us into preventive custody.”

Nagaraj told South First on Tuesday: “The Madhya Pradesh police are yet to free us from their custody. We protested demanding to let us free in order to take part in the farmers’ protest at Delhi but they denied us permission.”

Related: Madhya Pradesh police detain, ‘injure’ Karnataka farmers citing ‘CBI probe’

Karnataka demands immediate release

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, on Monday, 12 February, condemned the Madhya Pradesh government for detaining the farmers and demanded their immediate release.

The chief minister further said that the farmers’ struggle could not be suppressed by arresting and intimidating them.

Meanwhile, Karnataka’s Chief Secretary Rajneesh Goel has reportedly held talks with his counterparts at Madhya Pradesh government on Tuesday.

Goel has demanded the immediate release of the farmers, claimed sources in the CMO.

On anonymity, an official from CMO told South First: “The Karnataka Chief Secretary has held talks with the Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary on the matter. The state CS is in constant touch with his counterpart demanding their immediate release.”

Also Read: Iron nails, barbed wires, tear gas, concrete blocks at Delhi borders to stall farmers’ protest

The Chalo Delhi protest

On Tuesday, the Delhi and Haryana Police placed multiple levels of barricades, concrete blocks, iron nails and barbed wire to stop the farmers from entering Delhi.

Meanwhile, Haryana Police hurled tear gas shells when a group of youngsters, who were part of the farmers’ “Chalo Delhi” protest march, allegedly tried to break barricades set up at the Shambhu border in Ambala.

They also used a drone later on to test-drop a tear gas shell.

“The people of Punjab are made to feel like they are citizens of an enemy country,” the farmers’ body Kirti Kisan Union said, on Tuesday, while attacking the the Union government and Haryana governments for sealing the Punjab-Haryana borders.

Iron spikes, barbed wire, and concrete walls had come up along the borders, it said in a statement.

“BJP governments are creating an atmosphere of terror to scare people. The BJP government is treating the protesters as enemies of the country,” the statement alleged.