On Tuesday, June 6, five farmers were shot dead during protests in the city of Mandsaur in the state of Madhya Pradesh. There are conflicting reports as to who fired the shots, with the National Farm Workers' Union claiming that police fired at the protesters while the state's home minister claimed that "anti-social elements in the crowd fired bullets." According to police, farmers burned vehicles the night of Monday, June 5, and Tuesday morning in the area. Authorities have ordered an investigation into the shooting. Further protests are likely in the coming days and additional violence cannot be ruled out.
The protests were part of an indefinite strike by farmers across Maharashtra state that started on Thursday, June 1. Protesters prevented produce trucks from transporting fruits, vegetables, and milk to major cities in the country. Some of the demonstrators also threw vegetables and poured out milk onto the roads as part of the protest. Food suppliers warned on Friday, June 2, that the ongoing strike may cause shortages in major cities such as Mumbai, Pune, and Thane in the coming days. Food prices have also reportedly increased due to the lack of supply.
The ongoing strikes are organized by Kisan Kranti, a farmers' organization. Farmers decided to protest after talks with the government over loan waivers failed. Kisan Kranti is demanding that the government provide the farmers billions of dollars in debt forgiveness for loans. They are also calling for a fixed minimum price for their produce.
Farmers have been holding similar protests in the neighboring state of Maharashtra. On Tuesday, the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Devendra Fadnavis, announced that the state would write off the debt of approximately 3.2 million farmers by October 31 at a cost of 305 billion rupees (USD 4.7 billion) to the state.
Around 66 percent of India's population is connected to the farming industry, yet only about 14 percent of total gross domestic product comes from the farming sector.
Individuals present in India are advised to monitor the situation and to stay away from all demonstrations.
As a reminder, some Western governments advise their citizens against nonessential travel to the west of Jammu and Kashmir state and against all travel to the border region with Pakistan (direct vicinity of the Line of Control) due to the high threat of terrorism.