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

Farmers from Karnataka, including women, were on their way to Delhi to participate in the protests called for by various farmers unions.

ByMahesh M Goudar

Published Feb 12, 2024 | 8:39 PMUpdated Feb 12, 2024 | 8:58 PM

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

Around 100 Karnataka farmers, en route to Delhi to participate in the “Delhi Chalo” protest organised by various farmer unions, were detained by the Madhya Pradesh Police in the early hours of Monday, 12 February.

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

What’s worse, 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.

South First spoke to farmers who had been isolated in a convention hall in Bhopal and said that they did not have access to proper food or water.

The farmers, associated with various unions and organisations from the state, were in a state shock as the Madhya Pradesh police not only stopped them from continuing their journey but also detained them from the Bhopal Railway Station around 2 am on Monday on the pretext of a CBI inquiry.

The detained Karnataka farmers would be sent back to Bengaluru, claimed the Bhopal Police.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah condemned the Madhya Pradesh government for detaining the farmers and demanded their immediate release.

A new BJP government is currently ruling Madhya Pradesh, with Mohan Yadav as the chief minister. The government came to in December last year, with the  Election Commission conducting Assembly polls there along with other states, including Telangana.

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Woman farmer injured

The detained farmers were headed to Delhi to participate in the 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.

The Bhopal Police kept all the farmers under detention at a convention hall in Bhopal City. Condemning this, the farmers protested against the local police and authorities.

Karnataka State Sugarcane Growers’ Association’s Mysuru-Chamarajanagar district wing general secretary Baradanpura Nagaraj told South First: “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 continued: “Around 100 farmers from Mysuru, Chamarajanagar, Hassan, Dharwad, and Belagavi were heading to Delhi to participate in the protest. Of the total farmers, there are about 30-40 women farmers, who were also detained in the absence of women police at the Bhopal Railway Station.”

Photo of an allegedly injured woman farmer from Bhopal shared by farmer union in Karnataka. (Supplied)

Photo of an allegedly injured woman farmer shared by farmer union in Karnataka. (Supplied)

He also said: “We have been kept at a convention centre and restricted from speaking to the local media. We condemn the police atrocities against us as one of the women farmers sustained severe injuries during the police action on us. They did not even provide proper treatment to the injured at the hospital.”

Nagaraj also alleged: “We are being ill-treated here. The police are not providing proper food and water to the detained farmers. We are demanding that they provide a translator as they do not understand Kannada and we do not know Hindi. We will continue to protest until they release us.”

On their future course of action, he said: “We are waiting for the culmination of the meeting being chaired by the various farmers’ associations in Chandigarh to decide on the protest. Based on the outcome, we will decide whether to head to Bengaluru or Delhi.”

He added: “The Union government promised to fulfil all our demands while withdrawing three controversial farm laws. But it did not stand by its words. Our demands include law guaranteeing the MSP for farm produce, waiver of farm loans, and implementation of the Swaminathan Report.”

Also Read: BJP did nothing to get drought relief for Karnataka, says DKS

The police version of events

The Bhopal police claimed that they took Karnataka farmers into preventive custody in connection with a “CBI inquiry”.

On condition of anonymity, a Bhopal City Police official told South First: “They were heading to Delhi’s Nizamuddin Railway Station. There was a CBI inquiry into one of these travellers. Hence, we stopped them from travelling further.”

The official added: “We did not detain them but only stopped them from travelling. They are still in our custody. We are making necessary arrangements to send them back to Karnataka on the Sampark Kranti Express.”

The individual also said: “We also came to know that one among these people made a false promise that he would take them to Ayodhya and Mathura. He deceived them and was taking them to Nizamuddin.”

The official then said: “We would not like to disclose anything more than this. We have not registered any case against them. They are in police custody and will be sent back to their home state.”

Also Read: Karnataka farmers want repeal of APMC Act, brought by BJP

Siddaramaiah lashes out

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah condemned the detention of farmers and urged the Madhya Pradesh government to immediately release all of them.

In his post on X, Siddaramaiah said: “The arrest of Hubballi farmers by the Madhya Pradesh government, as they were heading to New Delhi to take part in the protest, is highly condemnable.”

He added: “I demand that the Madhya Pradesh government immediately release all the farmers from our state who have been arrested and allow them to participate in the protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi tomorrow.”

He also said: “Although it is the government of Madhya Pradesh that has made the arrests, it is clear that the criminal brain behind this act is the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led-BJP government [at the Centre].”

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

“Such repression might only lead more farmers to take to the streets, but the struggle of the sons and daughters of the soil will not cease. If the Central government truly cares about peace and order, it should immediately meet the demands of the farmers and resolve the issue, rather than repressing and brutalising them into silence,” demanded Siddaramaiah.

Calling the BJP “anti-farmer”, Siddaramaiah further alleged that whether it was at the Centre or in the states, whenever the BJP came to power, history bore witness that their first act of aggression was against farmers.

“The first time the BJP came to power in Karnataka, farmers asking for fertilisers were ruthlessly shot down by the government led by BS Yediyurappa. Several farmers died due to the violence inflicted on protesting farmers in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh by the Narendra Modi government at the Centre,” he alleged in his post.

“Looking at the current actions of the Narendra Modi government, it seems its main aim is to intimidate farmers into submission,” he alleged.

Also Read: Karnataka announces interim relief for drought-hit farmers

What are the farmers’ demands?

Farmers from various parts of the country — including Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh — are said to be participating in the mega protest against the BJP government at Delhi on Tuesday.

The agrarians are demanding that the Centre fulfil several demands, the primary of which is a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP) for all farm produce.

This was a condition the farmers had set in 2021 when deciding to withdraw their long protest against the three contentious farm laws.

Another is the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations. The National Commission on Farmers (NCF), chaired by Prof MS Swaminathan, submitted a report in October 2006 on the causes of distress to farmers and the rise in the number of farmer suicides.

The report recommended addressing these through a holistic national policy for farmers.

The farmers are also demanding pensions for themselves and farm labourers, as well as farm debt waiver, besides “justice” for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

In several states, especially in North India, the police have shut interstate borders to prevent farmers from heading to Delhi to participate in the protest.

(With inputs from PTI)