Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav and social activists Medha Patkar and Swami Agnivesh were on Sunday arrested in Madhya Pradesh’s Ratlam district after they tried to enter neighbouring Mandsaur to meet the families of the five persons killed in police firing during the farmers’ stir.
The activists, around 30 in number, were stopped by the police at the Dhodhar toll plaza in Ratlam district’s Jaora town.
The police told them that their visit could disturb peace in Mandsaur, from where curfew was lifted on Saturday. Prohibitory orders under CrPc Section 144 are in place in the district.
After being stopped, the activists, including JNU students union President Mohit Kumar Pandey and representatives from various farmer outfits across the country, sat on protest on the Mhow-Neemuch Highway, disrupting traffic movement.
The activists raised slogans against the government and in support of farmers for about an hour.
They also argued with the police and Ratlam administration officials to allow them to enter Mandsaur.
Following this, the police arrested the 30 activists under CrPC section 151 (arrest to prevent the commission of cognizable offences), Jaora SDM R P Verma said.
After the arrest, Yadav told mediapersons, “Our arrest is against the law as no written order was shown to us.”
“We wanted to meet the families of deceased farmers peacefully and honour them by giving them a letter and soil brought from different parts of the country but we were not allowed to go,” he said.
Yadav said the government should waive farmers’ loans, and they should get the right price for their agricultural produce.
He also demanded a probe into the death of the six people who have died during the farmers’ agitation so far.
Patkar said, “We are being told that if we go to Mandsaur, peace may get disturbed. We are unable to understand how it will affect the peace.”
“We are not going there for any protest or demonstration, we just wanted to meet the deceased farmers’ family,” she said.
Heavy police force and water cannons were deployed and barricades placed, hours before the activists reached the Dhodhar toll plaza.
Farmers in the state began protests over low prices for their crops on June 1.
The Mandsaur-Neemuch region, about 300 km from the state capital Bhopal, became the nerve centre of the storm of farmer distress. Later, protests spread to some other parts of the state.
In Mandsaur, the curfew was imposed after five persons were killed in police firing during the farmers’ protest on June 6.