Farmers demanding debt relief and better crop prices on Wednesday "heckled" Mandsaur collector when he tried to pacify them, a day after five persons were killed in violence during their agitation in Mandaur in Madhya Pradesh.
Also, former MP from Mandsaur, Meenakshi Natarajan, was detained when she was on her way to meet the family members of the deceased.
Farmers in western Madhya Pradesh are protesting since June 1 demanding higher minimum support prices (MSP) for their produce, among others.
Five persons were on Tuesday killed as the farmers' agitation turned violent, prompting the authorities to clamp curfew in the trouble-hit area.
According to eyewitnesses, the protesting farmers had torched vehicles and indulged in stone pelting in Parshvanath area under Pipaliya Mandi police station limits.
Curfew remained in force in Pipalya Mandi police station area of the district and Mandsaur town, while prohibitory orders restricting movement under section 144 of CrPC are also imposed in the rest of the district.
Farmers in large numbers blocked a road on Wednesday in Berkheda Panth area, around 18 kms from Mandsaur.
When Mandsaur Collector SK Singh and Superintendent of Police Omprakash Tripathi reached the spot to mollify the protesters, the farmers allegedly manhandled the administrative officer.
"When the protesters started misbehaving and pushing the collector, we made way for him to come out safe," Berkheda Panth's sarpanch Dinesh told PTI.
Ujjain Range Inspector General of Police V Madhukumar, who is camping in Mandsaur, told PTI over the phone: "I have also come to know that something happened with the collector. But I exactly do not know what happened."
When contacted for his reaction, the collector refused to comment on the incident.
Asked if the police will take action against those who misbehaved with him, the district magistrate said, "It was the law-enforcers' job."
The IG, meanwhile, said that the mortal remains of the five persons who died on Tuesday were cremated this morning.
He said the situation in Mandsaur was under control.
Meanwhile, former MP and Congress leader Meenakshi Natarajan was stopped and detained at Nahargarh when she was on her way to meet the family members of the deceased.
However, other Congress leaders are on their way to Mandsaur to meet the kin of the deceased.
The Madhya Pradesh bandh called by the Congress today affected some western parts of the state, but petrol pumps, markets and other establishments remained open in Bhopal.
The district collector had on Tuesday said the police categorically told him that they did not open fire at the protesters.
After the incident, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, in his tweet, had blamed the opposition party for instigating violence.
According to the collector, a magisterial inquiry has been ordered in yesterday's incident. Mobile and Internet services have been suspended in Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts to check the spread of rumours.
Centre blames Congress for violence
Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday blamed the Congress for instigating farmers in Mandsaur.
The protests were being hijacked by the Congress, Naidu said a day after the violence. Farmers in the area have been protesting since June 1 demanding higher minimum support prices (MSP) for their produce among other things.
"It is a very sad turn of events in a state that is the most peaceful state in India. Congress is trying to politicise farmers' problems after they failed to counter Shivraj Singh Chouhan politically in the state," Naidu said on the sidelines of a function.
He said Madhya Pradesh was amongst the best performing states on all counts and Chouhan one of the BJP's best chief ministers.
"Because of his initiatives in the country 20 per cent of farmers in the country are in MP... he has encouraged them, has got them land and electricity. Because of this their production has increased. They might not be getting ideal price for their crops and they are protesting against that, sure, and the state government is addressing these issues, Congress is politicising it," said Naidu.
Naidu, the minister for information and broadcasting as well as urban development, warned the Congress against fuelling violence.
"I saw news reports that farmers have burnt vehicles and destroyed railway tracks. Farmers never resort to this kind of violence. I just want to warn the Congress not to fuel violence in the name of farmers. It will boomerang on you. Whatever the condition of farmers across the country is because of the long years of neglect of the agricultural sector by you (Congress)," he said.
The minister went on to list pro-farmer initiatives of the BJP-led government at the centre, including the Pradhan Mantri Bima Fasal Yojana (new crop insurance scheme), the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana (irrigation scheme), the health card plan and the waiving of loans for farmers.
The problems would take time to solve but the government was committed to addressing them, Naidu said.
"The PM has ordered an enquiry and the truth will come out. I ask the Congress why they want instant solution to farmers' problems in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh when they have no solution for farmers in Congress-ruled Karnataka?"
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the government over the farmer's protest, saying it is at war with them and "feeding" them with bullets for demanding their rights.
Referring to the violence during the ongoing farmers' agitation in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur district, he said, "This government is at war with the farmers of our country."
"In BJP's new India, farmers demanding their rights get bullets in return," he said in a tweet.
The Congress party also tweeted, "Those who give us food, the government is feeding them bullets - 3 farmers dead, several injured in police firing in MP."
Farmers protest in Maharashtra
Politics over the ongoing farmers agitation in Maharashtra intensified on Wednesday with Shiv Sena ministers skipping the state Cabinet meeting.
Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, meanwhile, ridiculed the government's offer of holding talks only with "true" farmer leaders. "Who are these farmers? Is there a real farmer in your ministry," the Sena said, in an editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
Making light of the Sena ministers' absence at the cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar of the BJP said, "The Sena ministers did not boycott the Cabinet meet but sought permission not to attend it which the chief minister granted."
Meanwhile, agitating farmers put a lock outside the house of BJP legislator R T Deshmukh from Majalgaon in Beed district.
Security outside homes of ruling party legislators and MPs has been beefed up following the 'lock up' protest.
In Solapur's Barshi, former state minister Dilip Sopal locked his house to express support for the farmers' stir.
The developments come a day after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced that Maharashtra government will come out with a loan waiver for farmers before October 31, which will benefit 1.07 crore farmers with less than five acre land holding.
"Before October 31, the distressed farmers who need help will be given a loan waiver. The modalities are being worked out and I can say with conviction that this will be the biggest loan waiver in Maharashtra's history," Fadnavis had said.
The Sena on Wednesday hit out at the Centre for allegedly pushing debt-ridden farmers into greater despair and allowing their farms to fall into ruin by 'brandishing the knife' of demonetisation.
"After years, monsoon last year brought hope to farmers and they had a bumper production but the knife of demonetisation led them to sell their produce at dirt cheap rates. They couldn't even recover their input costs and as a result, debt ridden farmers plunged deeper into losses," the Sena said in an editorial in Saamana.
The bickering ally also questioned the "apathy" of the government towards the agricultural sector at a time when the industry and services sector kept receiving periodical boost for their development.
With inputs from PTI