Guwahati: At least four farmers were killed and over a dozen injured in Assam on Monday after police opened fire to disperse a mob of jute cultivators who were enforcing a road blockade to demand better prices for their produce.
A police spokesperson said that about 500 jute farmers resorted to a highway blockade near Besimari in Darrang district, about 80 km north of Assam`s main city of Guwahati.
"The protestors pelted stones and attacked a security team that went to clear the road blockade. The situation turned violent and that prompted police to open fire," a senior police official said.
Four farmers were killed and about 15 people injured, including six policemen. "The injured were shifted to local hospitals with multiple injuries," the official said.
Witnesses said the protestors attacked security personnel using crude implements and that led the police to open fire.
"The situation is under control, but tense. Additional reinforcements have been rushed to the area," the official said.
A bumper jute harvest this year has added to the woes of farmers and in the absence of a market to sell their produce, the cultivators were demanding government support to sell their produce.
"We were demanding that the government should create some mechanism to help the farmers to sell our produce. But persistent demands failed, so we resorted to the road blockade," Abdul Hamid, a jute farmer, said.
"The police firing was uncalled for as they first tried to chase us by caning and that infuriated the protestors."