New Delhi: The Madhya Pradesh police allegedly forced a group of protesting farmers to strip down to their underwear and sit in a police station for hours in Bundelkhand today.
The Congress, the opposition party in the state, shared photographs that showed a group of people in their underwear sitting in a room. These are allegedly the protesting farmers. Some photos also show the farmers leaving the police station with their clothes bundled in their arms, according to reports.
Dozens of farmers had gathered outside the collectorate in Bundelkhand’s Tikamgarh district with a list of demands to be presented to the district administration, the Hindustan Times reported. The protest turned violent and the police is alleged to have used teargas, water cannons and sticks to disperse the crowd.
Farmers alleged that they were detained at the police station, beaten and stripped, reported NDTV.
The state’s BJP government has said that the Congress was backing the protests. Local Congress leader Yadvendra Singh said the protesters were angry when the district collector did not meet them. “Due to this, protesters started losing their cool. The police used force and between 25 to 30 farmers were injured. … I received information that Around 30 to 40 farmers have been detained by police at Dehat police station. I went there and found they had been beaten up. They were made to sit just in their underwear,” Singh said, according to HT.
Singh said that this was a violation of human rights and he would file a complaint with videos and photographs to the National Human Rights Commission and the State Human Rights Commission.
Kumar Prateek, superintendent of police in Tikamgarh, told HT that force was used when the group started throwing rocks. Eight policemen and one protester were injured, he said.
Reacting to the incident, chief minister Shivraj Chouhan accused the Congress of trying to create trouble and said that his government “cannot tolerate violent protests,” NDTV reported. He said he had asked for a report about the farmers being asked to strip.
MP home minister Bhupendra Singh said he had asked the police to investigate if the farmers were forced to strip or if they did so on their own.
Bundelkhand is one of the most severely drought-affected regions in the country. There have been several protests with farmers demanding loan waivers, and post-demonetisation, their debts increased further. Earlier this year, in June, five farmers were killed in the state’s Mandsaur district when police fired on a group of protesters.