Four jute farmers were killed in Assam on Monday when police opened fire on a group of agitating peasants who blocked a highway to demand better prices for their produce.
The police said around 500 jute farmers, mostly migrant Muslims, blocked national highway 52 near Besimari village in Darrang district, around 80 km north of Guwahati.
The situation turned violent when a police team from the nearby Dalgaon town rushed to the spot to clear the highway.
"The policemen requested the farmers to disperse, but they began pelting stones at the security personnel and a magistrate on duty," said Vivek Raj Singh, superintendent of police, Darrang.
This prompted the police to open fire, in which four farmers died on the spot. Eight policemen, including a deputy superintendent of police, were also injured in the melee. An inquiry has been ordered, the police said.
All Assam Minority Students Union has called a 12-hour bandh in Darrang to protest the firing. 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.
Assam-Nagaland border tense
Tension mounted on the Assam-Nagaland border in Golaghat district, after the Nagaland Armed Police Battalion set up a camp at upper Merapani village in Assam early September. On Monday, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti staged a day-long dharna at Merapani to protest the 'Naga aggression'.
"We are closely monitoring the situation. No untoward incident happened today (Monday)," said NM Hussain, deputy commissioner of Golaghat district. Trouble began after the camp came up and some Nagas, with support from the Nagaland police, allegedly started encroaching land at Tarani village on Assam side.