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Farmers’ stir: Rahul to meet kin of those killed in Mandsaur today

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Congress president Rahul Gandhi will meet family members of the farmers killed in police firing during an agitation in Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh on the first anniversary of the incident today and address a rally.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi

According to party sources, Gandhi, who returned from the United States last night, held a meeting with his party leaders and security forces ahead of tomorrow's visit to Mandsaur.

Gandhi is scheduled to fly to Mandsaur tomorrow afternoon. He would address the "kisan rally" at Khokhra (Pipliya Mandi) in the district. Family members of three out of the six people killed in police firing would share dais with the Congress president. Former Mandsaur MP and Congress leader Meenakshi Natrajan said her party had urged the kin of the deceased to participate in the meeting.

Six people -- Kanhaiya Lal Patidar, Satyanarayan Dhangar, Abhishek Patidar, Bablu, Ghanshyam Dhakad and Chintaman Patidar -- were killed in the police firing at Pipliya Mandi during the agitation on June 6 last year.

Family members of Abhishek Patidar told PTI today that Natrajan had requested them to attend the event.

"Former MP Natrajan approached me with a request to attend the condolence meeting along with my wife Alka. Since it is a condolence meeting, we will attend it," said Patidar's father Dinesh Patidar.

The family members of Bablu and Ghanshyam Dhakad have also given their consent to attend the programme.

Dhakad's wife Rekha, who was given a state government job after her husband's death, also said that the Congress invited them to attend the condolence meeting.

"Natrajan invited us to the condolence meeting. Some family members would attend it," Rekha said, adding that she was given a job and Rs 1 crore in compensation by the government as per the promise.

Bablu's wife Anita was also given a state government job and Rs one crore in compensation.

"Bablu's wife Anita got a job. The government also gave Rs one crore which was equally distributed between Bablu's mother and wife. We will attend the condolence meeting and share our problems with Rahul Gandhi," said Bablu's uncle Balaram Patidar.

However, the kin of Chintaman Patidar have not taken a call yet on attending tomorrow's programme.

"We are yet to decide whether to attend the condolence meeting or not though Natrajan had invited us. The government has given us Rs one crore. One of the family members would get a job soon," said Govind Patidar, brother of Chintaman.

Farmers had held statewide protests in Madhya Pradesh last year demanding better prices for their crops. The agitation was marred by violence at many parts in the state, especially in Mandsaur, which emerged as the epicentre of protests.

The Congress sources added that Gandhi would also hold a meeting with senior leaders of Madhya Pradesh Congress.

Top Congress leaders from Madhya Pradesh including PCC chief Kamal Nath, campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia and other state leaders would be in attendance.

Madhya Pradesh is slated to go to polls later this year and the Congress is seeking to make this rally big ahead of the assembly election.

The Congress, which has been in political wilderness for the past 15 years, is seeking to wrest power from the BJP in the state.

Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Mohan Parkash today dubbed the BJP and the Modi government as "anti-farmer", saying it had failed to provide remunerative prices to farmers.

Madhya Pradesh Congress chief spokesperson Manak Agrawal said that around one lakh people were expected to take part in tomorrow's meeting.

Security has been beefed up ahead of the meeting.

Mandsaur Superintendent of Police Manoj Singh said five companies of the Special Armed Force (SAF) have been deployed across the district ahead of the event.

Farmers in Madhya Pradesh launched a 10-day "Gaon Bandh" (village shutdown) agitation from June 1 for various demands including better remunerative prices for agriculture produce and a complete loan waiver.

Rashtriya Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh president Shivkumar Sharma 'Kakkaji' had said that BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, former union finance minister Yashwant Sinha, and former VHP leader Praveen Togadia are likely to join the farmers' stir in Mandsaur on June 8.

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