Bhopal: Police used lathis to drive away farmers at a Kisan Sammelan, in the presence of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in the Badarwas town of Shivpuri district on Wednesday. The lathi-charge led to a virtual stampede and the farmers started leaving the function venue. The local BJP leaders intervened when they realised that the situation was getting out of hands and persuaded the farmers to return. Some of them, however, chose to boycott the meet.
According to information, the Kisan Sammelan was organised with an eye on the impending assembly by-elections in the Kolaras assembly constituency. The venue was a small ground. After it got packed to capacity, the police put barricades to stop the farmers from entering the ground. Some farmers tried to make their way into the venue through the VIP gate. This led to arguments between the farmers and the policemen. When the police tried to push them back, some farmers threw dust into the eyes of the cops. This incensed the policemen and they charged at the crowd with lathis.
In the resultant panic, many farmers fell on the ground. The school students who had come to the venue for a cultural programme that formed part of the event could not enter inside due to the melee. After the chief minister was informed of the development, he decided to stay at Badarwas for the night, apparently as a damage control exercise. During his stay, the chief minister will also tour the surrounding villages.
The incident has given the Congress a convenient handle to beat the chief minister with. LoP Ajay Singh said that “Chouhan was an anti-farmer chief minister”. He said that the farmers were lathicharged as they were opposing the Bhavantar scheme.