India

Protesting India farmers were killed in police firing

Police say farmers clashed with them and set several vehicles on fire Image copyright PTI
Image caption Police say farmers clashed with them and set several vehicles on fire

An Indian minister has confirmed that police firing killed five protesting farmers in the central state of Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.

State Home Minister Bhupendra Singh had earlier blamed some "anti-social elements" for the deaths.

But on Thursday he said an inquiry had established that police had opened fire on the protesters.

The farmers in Mandsaur were demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.

Mr Singh said he "amended" his previous statement on the deaths after getting the "right information".

"Initially, the details provided to me were that police firing did not cause the death of farmers. However, I later amended my statement as soon as I received the right information," he said.

Meanwhile, a curfew remained in force in Mandsaur as farmers refused to end their protest. Other parts of the state have also witnessed similar protests.

Experts say traders are not offering good prices to farmers because of oversupply caused by a bumper harvest.

Image copyright PTI
Image caption Farmers want better prices for their produce

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the government would write off the loans of farmers who have defaulted on payments.

Mr Chouhan has also promised to set up a commission to decide a fair minimum price for crops.

But opposition parties say the government needs do more to calm the protesting farmers.

Rahul Gandhi, vice-president of the main opposition Congress party, is visiting Mandsaur on Thursday to meet the families of the victims.

He has said that Mr Chouhan's government "was at war with farmers".

But Mr Singh said Mr Gandhi doesn't need to visit the city.

"Why does Rahul Gandhi want to come here? The government has accepted all the demands of the farmers," he said.