Two men and a woman died after police opened fire on protesting farmers at Bour village near Kamshet, 128 km from Mumbai on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, on Tuesday.
Twenty-eight people — including 23 policemen — were injured in the clashes.
The farmers, mostly from the Maval taluka of Pune district, were opposing a proposed water tunnel project that will divert water from Pavana dam to Pimrpi-Chinchwad. Besides, they said building the tunnel would lead to land acquisition.
Around noon, they blocked a 20-km stretch of the expressway. When the police asked them to disperse, they gheraoed senior officers and began pelting stones and torching vehicles.
Altogether, 25 vehicles were damaged, but when the protesters set fire to two police vans, the police personnel sitting in them opened fire. “The use of force by police was largely in self defence,” said district police chief Sandeep Karnik.
Shankar Shelar, president of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, which is spearheading the protests, said: “The police firing was unnecessary.”