Mandsaur unrest: Elderly woman along with husband beaten up by MP police

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's fast to restore peace in violence-hit western Madhya Pradesh - the hub of a farmers agitation to secure fair prices for their produce and loan waivers from the state government - lasted almost 28 hours, till Sunday afternoon.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Saturday began an indefinite fast "until peace is restored".

The Chief Minister has called for indefinite hunger strike to restore peace among the farming community of the state.

Madhya Pradesh is the only state in the country where farmers get interest-free loans and are charged less rate of interest on money given for buying seeds and fertilisers, he said.

The chief minister had reached out to cultivators on Saturday, meeting 15 delegations of small farmers and 236 panels of big farmers.

Farmers in the state began protests over low prices for their crops on June 1. (The farmers and their issues were in my thoughts and dreams.) "I have always tried doing a lot for farmers, and their problem is ours". "I will not eat till the Chief Minister comes and meets me", Mrs Mewade said.

After the protests, the CM went on a fast for "peace" and promised justice.

In retaliation, the police opened fire at the farmers, leaving five dead, according to official count.

"As the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh for eleven-and- a-half years, my priority has been state's development and farmers' welfare", Chouhan said.

The occasion turned a show of unity in BJP with senior party leaders, both loyalists and dissidents, seen congratulating him for breaking his 28-hour-long fast, even as state women and child development minister Maya Singh offered a glass of coconut water to Mr Chouhan's wife to end her fast.

Curfew was on Saturday lifted from Mandsaur city as the district, the epicentre of the farmers' agitation in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, remained peaceful though the restrictions on assembly would remain in force.

Farmers' protests had heated up in Mandsaur district of Madhya Pradesh, as the farmers demanded fair prices for their produce and waiver of their loans.

While on fast at the Dussehra maidan, the CM appealed to farmers to come and discuss their problems with him at the maidan. He said that no case will be registered against farmers but such people will not be spared. But he went to a ground to run his government. That was the informal instruction spread amongst protesters here, many of them youngsters who defy the stereotypical image of the traditional Indian farmer.

Vanessa Coleman

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