Bhopal: Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday accused the Congress of instigating and politicising farmers' stir in Madhya Pradesh and termed Rahul Gandhi's planned visit to the violence-hit Mandsaur as "another photo opportunity".
Naidu's comments came shortly after the Congress vice president was detained in Neemuch by police for defying ban orders imposed in the violence-hit Mandsaur district where he wished to go in order to meet the grieving families of farmers had who lost their lives in the police firing.
The Congress leader was taken into preventive custody by the local authorities and rushed to an undisclosed location. He has been formally arrested and charged under Section 151, according to ANI.
Senior leaders including Digvijay Singh, Kamal Nath Singh, Sharad Yadav and several others were also stopped by the MP Police from entering Neemuch, while Rajasthan Congress unit chief Sachin Pilot was detained.
Speaking to reporters, Rahul said, ''Farmers have been killed, I want to go there; PM has waived off loan of 1.5 lakh for rich but can't waive off loan for farmers.''
They didn't give any reason, just said they are arresting me. The same was done in Uttar Pradesh also, Rahul Gandhi told reporters.
Rahul Gandhi, who left for Mandsaur early morning, had taken a motorbike ride to reach there in order to meet the grieving families of farmers who lost their lives in the police firing.
In a big admission earlier, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh today accepted that five farmers were killed in firing by police in the violence-hit Mandsaur district.
It has been established in probe, Bhupendra Singh was quoted as saying by ANI. The minister had earlier denied reports of farmers' deaths due to police firing.
Meanwhile, at least 62 people have been detained in connection with the recent violence in Mandsaur, according to city SP OP Tripathi.
In a related development, the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government today transferred the Mandsaur District Collector and the Superintendent of Police in the wake of farmers' killing in police firing.
According to ANI, Om Prakash Srivastava has been appointed new District Collector of Mandsaur.
Also, a contingent of Rapid Action Force (RAF) has been deployed in Madhya Pradesh's violence-hit Mandsaur district.
As Rahul Gandhi left for Mandsaur by road, Neemuch SP Manoj Kumar Singh said that the Congress leader will not be allowed to visit farmers in the violence-hit district of MP.
Amid Rahul Gandhi's scheduled visit, the agitating farmers today intensified their protest in Mandsaur with reports claiming that one toll plaza was vandaalised and Rs ten lakh were looted in stray incidents of violence in the district.
Congress VP Rahul Gandhi had confirmed his Mandsaur visit in a tweet yesterday.
The Congress leader's visit comes a day after the Centre ordered a judicial inquiry into the Mandsaur police firing incident in which five agitating farmers lost their lives.
Rahul had openly slammed the Centre over the killing of farmers in the protest on Tuesday.
However, the Centre hit back at Gandhi for publicizing the entire matter through his visit, and branded it as a publicity stunt.
"Rahul Gandhi is going to that area where situation is very much tense. He should understand his responsibility. He should have talked about this first, but he is so fond of his publicity. That's why he is going there." Union Minister of Steel, Mines and Employment Narendra Singh Tomar was quoted as saying by ANI.
Meanwhile, the Congress has rebuffed reports of Gandhi participating in the ongoing farmers protest in Mandsaur, saying such a plan was never on the card for the party.
"People who wanted to go and express solidarity with the bereaved farmers, including Rahul Gandhi, were denied permission. Instead canards and rumours were spread that he wanted to go earlier to participate in the protest. There were never any plans, never any attempt," Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said in a press briefing here.
Appealing for peace to the agitating farmers in the state, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had earlier announced a compensation of Rs. 1 crore to the kin of those killed in the violence.
Speaking to ANI, the Chief Minister asserted that his government stands with farmers and assured that various demands have been fulfilled in the past.
"In the past 11 years, there have been countless decisions made for the welfare of farmers. The various demands of the farmers have been fulfilled," he said.
However, Chouhan came down heavily on the Congress for giving a political tinge to the violence.
The farmers' agitation in Mandsaur district further intensified with protestors setting at least eight to ten vehicles on fire today.
Demanding the presence of Chouhan, the protesting farmers, earlier in the day got into a scuffle with the Collector and Superintendent of Police of Mandsaur district over them delaying their visit to the area.
Farmers hit the streets protesting over their demands for remunerative prices for their produce and a farm loan waiver not being met.
This unfortunately took an ugly turn yesterday when five farmers were killed and eight others were injured in two separate incidents of firing in Mandsaur.
The protestors alleged that police fired at them.