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With no fresh case of violence, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday called off his fast for farmers, a day after he began the exercise, and declared that peace has returned to the state. Chouhan, who faced heat over the violent farmer unrest in MP, broke his fast with a glass of coconut water offered by former state chief minister Kailash Joshi. Before breaking his fast, the chief minister said, "Peace has been restored in MP and no case of violence has been reported yesterday and today." He said that those involved in the death of five farmers in Mandsaur will be punished severely. "I will not end my fast till peace is restored in the state," Chouhan had said last evening after the protest by farmers was marred by violence in the state. The CM, reaching out to cultivators, also met 15 delegations of small farmers and 236 panels of big farmers on Saturday.
The delegations pressed for loan waiver and "satisfactory" prices for their produce. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president Nandkumar Singh Chauhan had claimed that the family members of those killed in police firing at Mandsaur on Tuesday have requested the CM to call off his fast. Kin of four out of the five persons killed in police firing on Tuesday at Mandsaur — the epicentre of the farmers' stir — had met Chouhan here on Saturday. They had come down from Mandsaur seeking justice for the deceased. Chouhan had launched his indefinite fast for "peace restoration" on Saturday at the BHEL Dussehra Maidan in Bhopal amid violent farmer protests in western MP, especially in Dewas and Mandsaur districts over the last ten days. A day ahead of launching his fast, Chouhan, whose government had come under fire over the peasant deaths, had said that the agitation had turned "anarchic", and had appealed to farmers to come to Dussehra Maidan and have a dialogue with him. "I won't sit in my office at Mantralaya (secretariat)... but sit at Dussehra Maidan and do all (official) work from there," Chouhan had said. Chouhan had also blamed the Congress for instigating violence during peaceful farmers' agitation - a charge denied by the rival party, which dubbed the CM's fast as a "nautanki" (drama). The farmers' protest, which began on June 1, took a violent turn on June 6, when five persons were killed in police firing at Mandsaur. A day after the firing incident, the protesters allegedly heckled Mandsaur district collector S K Singh, who was later transferred. Subsequently, the farmers' protest witnessed bandh and arson as the agitation spread in other districts of western Madhya Pradesh including Neemuch, Dhar, Ratlam and Jhabua. During the later stage of this 10-day stir, the flames of protest singed the state capital as protesters torched a truck and some other vehicles on the Bhopal-Indore highway. A day after Mandsaur firing, the protesters had also allegedly set ablaze four passenger buses and a dozen other vehicles in Newri Phata in Dewas district on the highway. The protesters had also burnt a truck and four motorbikes at Rajgarh district headquarters on June 8. The agitation had hit the train services in western MP while several roads including Bhopal-Indore and Indore- Ahmedabad highways also remained blocked for hours due to road blockade by protesters. Earlier on June 4, the chief minister had claimed after a meeting with representatives of agitating farmers at Ujjain, that differences with cultivators were ironed out with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) farmers outfit Bharatiya Kisan Sangh even announcing that the strike had been withdrawn. However, other farmers' outfits stuck to their previous announcement of 10-day long strike denying any agreement with the government. On the same day (on June 4), a police assistant sub-inspector sustained severe injuries in his one eye during the stone pelting at Ratlam. A high-voltage political drama was also witnessed on June 8, when Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi was detained on his way to Mandsaur to meet the family members of the farmers killed in police firing.