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MP farmer deaths: CRPF, not cops, fired at farmers, above waist

Updated on: 09 June,2017 10:15 AM IST  | 
Vinod Kumar Menon |

Post-mortem report shows bullet injuries in upper body of five farmers; one was shot in the head; local IG says central forces to blame

MP farmer deaths: CRPF, not cops, fired at farmers, above waist

One of the farmers who was killed in police firing on Tuesday
One of the farmers who was killed in police firing on Tuesday

It was personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) who fired at the agitating farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, on Tuesday, resulting in the death of five, the local Inspector-General (IG) told mid-day on Thursday.

All the injuries were above the waist, with one of those killed being shot in the head, according to post-mortem reports.

The revelation assumes significance, as the Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh told the media on Thursday morning, after stoutly denying for two full days that security forces were not involved in the firing.

Ujjain Inspector General V Madhu Kumar said, "The CRPF personnel were surrounded by the mob and they had no option but to resort to opening fire in self-defence to save themselves. A judicial probe has been ordered by the government and all facts will come out after the probe is over."

If what the local IG says turns out to be true, serious questions will be asked of the CRPF about whether its men followed Standard Operating Protocol (SOP). Interestingly, no case has been registered against the policemen who opened fire on the mob nor have any policemen been suspended so far.

Activists in Bhopal protest the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur. Pic/PTI
Activists in Bhopal protest the killing of five farmers in Mandsaur. Pic/PTI

"I am not aware of any such comment, nor I have gone through any police reports," Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar, CRPF Director General, told mid-day from New Delhi. "But the CRPF goes to aid civil authorities and they are directly under the command of the local police."

According to SOP, any police action should be in the following sequence: (1) security personnel should warn an unlawful gathering to disperse, (2) usage of water cannons, (3) lathi charge below the waist, (4) firing of tear gas shells, and finally, (5) open fire, but only after specific instructions from a superior ranked officer.

The Criminal Procedure Code, however, gives power to any police officer of the rank of sub-inspector to open fire in self-defence or to save citizens’ lives or public property. But from available evidence, the security personnel seem to have resorted to firing live bullets before trying out any other avenue.

Also read - Farmers' strike: Rahul Gandhi detained in Mandsaur

Members of a four-doctor team that conducted the post-mortem on the five bodies told mid-day that all five bodies had bullet wounds above the waist, with one being also shot in the head.

Dr Nishant Sharma (anaesthetist), Dr Vishal Goud (general medicine), Dr Arpit Porwal (paediatrician) and Dr Deepak Agarwal (radiologist), all attached to the Mandsaur district hospital conducted the autopsy on the deceased identified as Abhishek Patidar (25), Chenram Patidar (22), Babloo Patidar (25), Kaniyalal Patidar (38) and Satyanarayan Gairi (25).

The autopsy reports have concluded that all deaths were due to gunshot injuries. "The bullet wounds were either on the chest or the abdomen, and in one case we found that the deceased had sustained bullet injury on his head," Dr Goud told mid-day. "Bullet remains from the bodies have been sealed and given for ballistic examination, along with other relevant forensic materials."

Also red - MP farmer deaths: 5 more paramilitary battalions sent to Mandsaur

Asked if the surgeon could ascertain the nature of weapon and range from which firing happened based on the extracted bullets, the doctor replied in negative, saying the Forensic Science Laboratory ballistic team would ascertain the same.

IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said the CRPF would have been under the local police command, but said it was evident that the police used excessive force. "This is a clear case of local intelligence failure, if they were expecting the large turnout and the violence, additional police force should have been deployed," Singh told mid-day. "Secondly, they should have used alternative methods of crowd control, like firing tear gas shells, rubber bullets, using water cannons etc, which could have still been effective in controlling the situation."

Asked whether the CRPF did not follow the SOP, Makrand Deuskar, Inspector General of Police (Intelligence), Madhya Pradesh, said, "The government has already ordered a judicial probe and all points you are raising will have to wait until the probe report is out."

Also read - Farmers' protest: It's violence and arson in western Madhya Pradesh

Asked why security personnel did not take any crowd-control measures before resorting to firing, Deuskar defended the forces, saying measures were taken but the protesters were on a rampage.

"The protestors were completely out of control and were on a rampage," he said. "They had already damaged /set fire to 28 government vehicles and over 200 private vehicles and had injured over 93 policemen. In retaliation the police did resort to lathi-charge and used water cannons, but when nothing deterred them, they fired in the air. But when the protesters started attacking the security personnel, they resorted to opening fire. And we do not use rubber bullets anymore, as past experiences show that rubber bullets, though not lethal, provoke the agitators further."

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