Five farmers were killed in firing during a protest in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, on Tuesday, prompting the authorities to impose a curfew in the trouble hit area, reported PTI.

The deceased were identified as Kanhaiyalal Patidar, Bablu Patidar, Chain Singh Patidar, Abhishek Patidar and Satynarayan. Mobile services were suspended in Mandsaur, Ratlam and Neemuch districts.

Some eyewitnesses said that the victims suffered bullet wounds, but the allegation was denied by the Mandsaur police authorities. It was not clear who had opened fire. The government has ordered an investigation into the incident. The Rashtriya Kisaan Mazdoor Sangh has called for a state-wide bandh tomorrow, reported ANI.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi criticised the government, tweeting, “In BJP’s new India, farmers demanding their rights get bullets in return.” The Congress party also tweeted, “Those who give us food, the government is feeding them bullets – 3 farmers dead, several injured in police firing in MP.”

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, however, called the incident a Congress conspiracy. “Government is sensitive and stands with farmers but Congress party, through conspiracy tried to fuel violence, many Congress leaders did so,” Shivraj Singh Chouhan was quoted as saying by ANI.

Bhupendra Singh, the state home minister denied reports that internet services were suspended in the region.

The protests

The farmers in the state have been protesting since last week. They want fair prices for their produce and loan waiver from the Bharatiya Janata Party government. On Monday, protestors clashed with the police in Neemuch. Both police officers and farmers were injured in the incident. The security forces baton-charged protestors and lobbed tear gas shells to control the situation, reported Hindustan Times.

Incidents of violence were reported from Dhar, Bioara, Indore, Jhabua, Ujjain, Ratlam, and Mandsaur as well, where farmers clashed with vegetable vendors, traders and police officials, reported The Indian Express.

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday said “a few people” were giving “a wrong direction to the farmers’ protest”. “If this does not stop, such people will face consequences,” he had said.

On Sunday, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, an organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, met Chouhan and announced that they had decided to call off the agitation because the government had agreed to their demands. However, the Bharatiya Kisan Union, which is believed to have started the four-day-long agitation, said they would continue protesting. They also pointed out that the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh was not a part of the agitation when it started last week.

On June 3, Maharashtra farmers called off their two-day strike on Saturday, after Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis agreed to a majority of their demands.