The 20th Anniversary of the Police Firing in Multai, Madhya Pradesh – Two Articles

February 21, 2018

 

On the 12th of January, 1998, a massive firing on farmers in Multai, Madhya Pradesh, claimed 24 lives. We are publishing two articles on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the firing. The first, by Dr. Sunilam, written in 2012, gives an account of the aftermath of the killings. The second is an account of a recent program held by the Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samanway Samiti, and the resolutions adopted.

The case of Multai Police Firing  – Dr. Sunilam
20th Anniversary of Multai firing: Program by Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samanway Samiti

 

******

The case of Multai Police Firing 

Dr. Sunilam, October 19, 2012

Now it is well-known that on 12 January 1998, the then Chief Minister of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh had ordered police firing, in a conspiracy to assassinate me and crush the farmers’ agitation for the compensation of the crop failure in Multai. 24 farmers were killed and 150 injured. The government did not take cognizance of the demand for action against the responsible officials – the District Magistrate and the Superintend of Police — for firing, the state Government filed 66 fake cases against me and 250 farmers. We continue to face in the court the cases under the charges of murder, attempt to murder, arson and loot etc. since 12 January 1998. In the judgment was due on 10th October 2012, but it has been postponed to 18 October as the concerned Magistrate has gone on leave. Court will deliver the judgment based on the testimonies of witnesses, arguments and pleadings of lawyers, but it is pertinent to discuss the issues emerging out of the Multai police firing.

After the barbaric act against the farmers, government ritualistically suspended the DM and the SP responsible for firing and instituted a judicial inquiry.

After the formalities, not only these officials were reinstated but were promoted too, as a reward for killing and injuring the farmers peacefully protesting for their rights, thus giving a clear message to the IAS and IPS official that the government will protect and promote them if they conduct massacre of anti-government protesters for their rights, more so if they are the farmers or agricultural laborers. The point is that why instead of engaging the protesting farmers in dialogues, the government preferred to kill and seriously injure them. Constitutionally, the IAS and IPS officials are not appointed to indiscriminately kill these people who become inconvenient to the ruling party’s anti-people policies. Ideally, both the officials must have been summarily dismissed and prosecuted to give the clear message that no administrative or police official would be allowed to take the law into their hands and they would not be allowed to kill unarmed farmers & no official indulging in the killing of innocents would be spared.

In thousands of police firings in the country, over 55 thousand unarmed innocent citizens have lost their lives. After every police firing the ritual of a judicial inquiry is observed. Same happened in Multai Police firing. The judicial inquiry commission was constituted under the District- session court’s judge, PC Agrawal. The farmers did not cooperate with this commission, as they have been demanding the inquiry by the judges of the Supreme Court. They did not expect justice from government appointed commission under a judge as in the past he had submitted a report that saved the government and implicated the protesters. The report was neither discussed in the state assembly nor was any case registered against the accused police personnel. On the contrary, on the basis of the report the government opined that after any police firing the accused officials should not be suspended before the inquiry is completed. The farmers suspect that the concerned judge was elevated to the position of the judge in the high court after the submission of the report. A perusal of the report makes it clear that it was prepared with the explicit purpose of implicating me and giving clean chit to the guilty officials.  Under the RTI Act, I demanded the copy of the judicial inquiry report from the department of the general administration of the government 2 years ago, that has not been made available to me as yet. Informally the officials have told that the report has been lost. This is the government attitude towards such serious issues.

Seeing the miserable state and the callousness of such commissions, it is high time some alternative devices are evolved for the inquiry into such cases. The inquiry should be such that the guilty officials fear it and are not allowed to mislead. It must be ensured that the officer heading the inquiry must not be rewarded on the basis of its report. Many such cases have come to public notice in which the officials conducting the inquiry are removed in the middle of the process, as they were being impartial and were not prepared to act as the puppet in the hands of the government.

After the brutal police action on 12 January 1998, I was arrested and tortured to the extent that I lost my senses. When I would gain consciousness, I would be again beaten by batons, boots and belts till I lost consciousness again. I was handcuffed and shackled and was kept without food and water. Fake encounter to eliminate me were attempted at. I wrote these details and sent them not only to the court but also wrote letters to the Prime minister, Chief Minister and the National Human Rights Commission from the jail. But as yet no agency has initiated any inquiry into the matter. On the 3rd day of the arrest myself and 250 farmers were produced before the magistrate and we were sent to jail and 66 fake cases under various Acts of IPC were leveled against us. No one objected to 66 cases in one incidence. And no cognizance was taken to our objections. According to a judgment of the full bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, in case of any death in police action, cases against the officials must be registered and they must be produced in a court of law. In this cases 24 innocent farmers were killed but no case was registered against any guilty official. A student Rishi Sahu, was shot dead in the broad day light while playing cricket in a ground while Rawat was dragged from the shop and killed. No cases were registered against the killers.

It is not only the matter of Multai farmers against whom the fake cases are registered. Wherever there are peoples’ movements, disregarding  the demands of the agitation, number of fake cases are slammed on the leaders and activists and they are invariably sent to jails. Unless the provisions to punish the officials registering fake cases and fake witnesses are made this trend will continue with impurity.

The issue of the fake cases is directly related to the misuse of the police for vested political interests. The political party in power uses the police as its political tool. The envisioned answerability of police to the constitutional provisions and the provisions of the Indian Penal code are set aside and the role of police is reduced to carry on the orders of the ruling party leaders. The police is free neither to register the cases against the erring officials nor to impartially inquire into the cases. If 66 cases imposed on the agitators in Multai episode is probed impractically, it would become clear that all of them are baseless and fake. But the police was used to manage the fake witnesses. The whole inquiry was aimed at implicating me and my fellow agitators. Despite all this, police was unable to present all the charges in the court. How many charges were dismissed or withdrawn is not intimated to us. When the acts of fake charges were condemned in various quarters, the government began to withdraw the charges. It is interesting to note that the government was pretending to withdraw the cases in the public interest on the one hand, and the public prosecutor was indirectly opposing its own application in the court, on the other hand.

After 10 years of the Congress rule when, BIP government came to power, the then Chief minister, Uma Bharati told me in the assembly that severe wrongs have been done to me and that the justice shall be done to the farmers. That day she announced the withdrawal of the fake cases against me and the farmers. In the past 9 years the BJP government has withdrawn 75 thousand cases but withdrawal of any case against the Multai farmers did not go beyond the lip service.

The dual characters of the political parties are clearly manifested in this episode.  After the firing the issue was debated in the Assembly for many hours. 10 BJP members who are ministers now, had then demanded swift action against the guilty officials, withdrawal of the fake cases against the farmers and timely compensation and insurance for their crops. They had also demanded construction of memorials of the martyred farmers. But even after 9 years in power, none of these ministers have bothered about the plight of the farmers. No serious action has been taken by the BJP government on any of those demands, orchestrated by them, when they were in opposition.

At the time of elections, the political parties raise the issues of the farmers’ plight for electoral gains. BJP printed and pasted posters of the martyrs of Multai and forgot the plight of their kith and kin after coming to power. Not only this, the BJP government has not yet granted the permission for the construction of memorial pillars of the martyrs despite my offering Rs. 20 lakhs from my MLA fund. Rahul Gandhi, the Congress general secretary raised the issue of the suicide by the Vidarbh farmers in the Parliament to the roaring applause by the minions and zealots of the Congress, but the condition of the Vidarbha farmers remains the same. Recently, Sonia Gandhi in an election rally in Gujarat, expressed solidarity with the farmers and accused the BJP government of firing at the farmers agitating for their legitimate demands. But she does not utter a word about firing at farmers by Congress governments.

The political parties have not been able to address the issues of compensation to farmers for the crop failures and the insurance of the crops. Now the government is contemplating FDI in the insurance sector. If the insurance for the crops is not paid by Indian companies, the state of affairs in the dominance of dubious foreign companies is anybody’s guess. When the government policy of development is based on the destruction of the villages, the agriculture and the farmers, the justice to the farmers shall remain an illusion. With corporate dictated model of the development and the Welfarism of the state becoming a farce, it seems imminent that the governments shall become more and more repressive against the farmers. The misery of the farmers is the consequence of the governments’ neo-liberal policies with the dominance of the market and the consumerism.

Justice delayed is justice denied. In the name of justice the farmers of the Multai have been running around the courts for the last 14 years. Individual farmers have been warranted and arrested time and again in this period. The courts have been unable to summon the prosecution witnesses for over a decade now. The session court trials were conducted like summary trials. Whenever a judge came close to comprehend the case, he/she was transferred. No political party, institution or organization came forward with the offer of any legal help to the farmers to help them in their routine legal battle, they have been trapped into. Advocate Aradhna Bhargav, for the last 15 years, has been, conscientiously and voluntarily representing them and fighting their court cases. Whatever be the verdict on 18 October (if it is not further postponed), since last 15 years, the farmers of Multai are still struggling for finding the answers of the issues emanating from their agitation and police firing aimed at killing them and 24 farmers were killed. These martyrs are seeking answers.

Yours

Sunilam

Former MLA, working President of Kisan Sanghrsh Samiti

Shaheed Kisan Smriti Kutir

Multapi, Betul (MP) 460661

 

****

 

20th Anniversary of Multai firing: Program by Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samanway Samiti

 

This report appeared on Sangharsh Samvad and has been translated by Samik. 


The Multai Manifesto was passed with full consent in 20th Shaheed Kishan Smriti Sammelan. Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samanway Samiti generated fresh hope and power among the farmers of this country.

Import-Export rules of the Central Government are responsible for falling of Agricultural Products price. The BJP Government has turned the farmers into beggars.

In 12th January 1998, a massive firing on the farmers in Multai, Madhya Pradesh, claimed 24 lives. 12 January 2018 observed the 20th Anniversary of that incident.

The protest in 1998 had been about the earnings of farmers and the administration responded to it heavily killing 24 farmers. The protest is still on, the farmers and labours across the country are still fighting for their earnings and the neo-capitalist forces have also intensified their attack on the farmers under the neo-liberal environment. Below are the excerpts of the latest release from Kishan Sangharsh Samiti.

*****

Today the 20th Kishan Smriti Sammelan and 241st Kishan Mahapanchayat was held, presided by Shri Tanti Choudhary. At 10:00 am the martyrs were remembered by offering wreaths at the Shaheed Kishan Stambh in Parmandal village, and at 11:00 am those 24 martyrs were honored by installing an inscription at the Shaheed Kishan Stambh at Multai Bus Stand. the 20th Kishan Smriti Sammelan was started from 12:00 noon at Tapti Mangal Bhawan, Paregaon Road, Multapi.

The Multai Manifesto with 28 points was released in the Kishan Mahapanchayat. The Manifesto covered demands for construction of Kishan Stambh (farmers’ memorial), registering murder cases against the accused police officials on Multai and Mandsaur firing incident, waiving off all loans of the farmers, 1.5 times of current price on crops, Rs 2000 per Quintal selling price for maize, Rs 5000 per Quintal for Soyabeans, Insurance benefit to all farmers and passing direct benefit to them due to price change, making selling price of milk fat to Rs 7, abolish the proposed model contract act, rehabitating the 10 crore farmers evicted so far, ensuring minimum wage of Rs 25000 per month for farmers, state withdrawal of increased price of petrol and diesel, stopping acquisition of agricultural land, stopping the Adani Pech Power Project and SEZ at Satnur village, arranging treatment camp for alcoholics, and providing free electricity to all farmers of MP, as it is provided to those of Punjab and Telengana.

Shri B M Singh addressed the conference and said the following: the farmers of Multai are fighting for their cause since past 20 years. In view of formation of the Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samanway Samiti that encouraged at least 190 farmers’ associations across the country, we all have now reached out to the farmers of Multai to provide them strong support. For 20 years the farmers have not been given justice, not been given fair price for maize and soybeans.

Whatever movement or protest happens related to the issues of Multai farmers, the Samanway Samiti will support it wholeheartedly. Farmers are not alone anymore; the entire country is with them. He also said that farmers of MP are not getting benefit of Crop Insurance and Price Change Scheme. The price of milk is decreasing day by day. The Chief Minister is only providing oral assurances to the farmers. The economic condition of the country can improve only when the villages can work towards self-dependence. He also said that there should be minimum control of market in local produces, and local import-export and local distribution system.

Shri Raju Shetty, while addressing the conference, said the following: farmers of MP are being forced to sell maize and soybean at throwaway prices. The import-export policy of the Central Government is directly responsible for this. The BJP Government has reduced the farmers to beggars. Price Change Scheme has been proven of no use. Farmers of the whole country will provide justice to these farmers. That’s why we have come to Madhya Pradesh.

The Martyrdom of the farmers 20 years ago will not be wasted. The farmers will take its revenge through proper justice. Government has made agriculture a loss-making profession completely, due to which the new generation is losing interest in it. The central Government schemes like Start-Up India, Make in India, Digital India, Cashless India and New India has no place for farmers. We need to strengthen our fight to change these anti-farmer policies of the Government.

Shri Heera Singh Markamji said the following: most Adivasis are born rich but the Government is looting them, exploiting them, destroying them. We have formed a party to resist these exploitation and loot on the Adivasis in Independent India. He also mentioned that Save food, save girls, save villages, save country, establish Gondwana state – these will be our slogans.

Ad. Aradhana Bhargava said that Kishan Sangharsh Samiti has created a history of sacrifice in this country. For the first time in history, the farmers of India have gathered under the banner of Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sangharsh Samiti, which was founded by Dr Suneelam – Kishan Sangharsh Samiti. She said that we will accept only full waiver of farmers’ loan and our protest will continue until we get the support price. She mentioned that the proposed Machagora dam has affected 31 villages. 8 villages have been immersed. Almost 50 thousand lives are at stake. Fishing permit at the Machagora Dam has been given to a contractor of Shivni, we demand to revoke his permit and give it to the affected farmers, rehabilitation of them and citing the compensation of Sardar Sarobar Dam affected population of Rs 60 Lakh per Hector as directed by the Supreme Court, we demand similar compensation package for the farmers affected here. She warned the Government that if these demands are not met, the protest will be fiercer, and no one will stay silent.

The Kishan Sangharsh Samiti General Secretary T R Athya said that the constitution of India does not endorse any discrimination, but this society continues discriminatory behaviour not only with Dalits, women and minorities, but farmers also face discrimination. The villagers face discrimination. He appealed everyone to fight to end this and bring equality to the society.

Dr Suneelam said that the Central and State Government are acting as agents of Adani and Ambani and looting the farmers. Their lands have been looted, they have been forced to commit suicide, and when they came forward in protest they were fired upon. But this farmers’ movement which was given its initial shape by Swamy Sahajanand Saraswati before Independence has gained its momentum today to compel the Government to listen to their demands.

He appealed to the farmers to protest the conspiracy of contract farming imposed by the Government. He demanded free electricity to all farmers of MP, like Punjab and Telengana. Central and State Governments are pampering the capitalists and exploiting the farmers. Central Government has provided discounts of Rs 14 Lakh Crore to 100 Capitalists like Ambani and Adani. Just one week back, to revive the struggling banks over NPAs, the government has given aid of Rs 80 Thousand Crores and in entire 2017 a total of Rs 2 Lakh 40 Thousand Crore has been given. Banks are not able to recover their money from these big houses. The due amount of Ambani-Adani now touches Rs 2 Lakh Crore. Still, instead of attaching and croaking their properties and other assets, the Government is providing them more and more monetary assets. We condemn this act wholeheartedly and demand an immediate end of this type of discriminations.

Susheela Tai Marade of Shetkari Sangharsh Samiti said that the PM talks about Make in India but he is virtually handing over the entire nation to foreign hands. Not everyone has got electricity, but he is talking about Digital India. Winning the election in name of caste and religion, and then talking about Clean India. The President of Gaam Raksha Ul, Maya Tai Chaire said that we remember the martyr farmers every year in this conference. She also urged everyone to feel empowered from the lives of the martyrs and leave alcohol forever.

Secretary of Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Khet Mazdoor Shri Maneesh Srivastava said that earlier farmers used to get compensation for crops being destroyed (due to some reason), but the Government has now stopped this compensation scheme in name of Fasal Beema (Crop Insurance), and farmers are not getting the insurance for their destroyed crops either.

Durgaprasad Singare, the President of Akhil Bhartiya Kishan Sabha said that Government wants to take care of farmers, but the Government is directed by the Corporates. There’s no other alternative than continuing protest this loot.
National President of Bhuiya Vichaar Manch, Rambabu Agrawal said that only the societal norms can give us justice, that’s why we have to struggle to make the Government adopt a socialist approach to solve the issues. The way of Sapt Kranti, or Seven Revolutions, declared by Dr. Lohia is the only way for us.

State President of Socialist Party India, Ramswarup Mantri said that the Price Change Scheme and Crop Insurance created some hope among the farmers but both the schemes have failed in absence of good wish and proper direction. Farmers are left with no option other than protest.

Apart from them, other attendees of the conference, like President of Arvind Deshmukh Ji Blue Diamond – Amardas, Manohar Singh, State President of Kishan Morcha – Sanjay Rai, President of Kishan Jagriti Sangathan – Irfan Zafri, Secretary Rajesh Bairagi of Jhabua, Leeladhar Choudhary of Dewas, Rajendra Purohit of Neemach, Devdas Bhai of Narmada Bachao Andolan (Barwani), Dr. Rajkumar Sanodia (Siwni), Lakhanchand Jain (Tikamgarh), Dinesh Kushwah (Mahu), President of Swaraj Abhiyan from Dhar Mr Bhagwan Singh and Vinod Singh of Kishan Sangh also presented their views.

The Martyr families were honoured. In memory of those farmers, 24 students from 5th and 8th grade of Government Schools of their villages were honoured with prizes given by Vidya Memorial Trust, founded in memory of Mrs Vidyavati Mishra, mother of Dr Suneelam. Blood Donation camps were organized like every other year in Tapti Mangal Bhawan, Paregaon Road, Multapi in memory of those farmers. 11 members of Kishan Sangharsh Samiti donated their blood. Names of some of the donors are – Dr Sunilam, Jagdish Daurke, Sadashiv Gadekar, Milind Khatarkar, Ravi (son of Martyr Mishri Lal Harode), Sanjeev Gawande, Chenvati Raghubangshi, Rajesh Sanotia, Navneet Patel, Ashok Barode, Pawan Harode.

No Comments »

Leave a comment