Farmers, protesting the state government's sugarcane pricing policy, Thursday stopped trains, pelted stones at cars and buses, blocked highways and clashed with police in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat and Faizabad districts, officials said. No casualties were reported in the violence till evening.
Several groups of farmers vandalised public and private property in Muzaffarnagar's Ahlam town, about 350 km from Lucknow, and also damaged rail tracks there.
"We have deployed additional security forces in the district. Farmers are just not ready to listen to anyone and have threatened to intensify their agitation in the coming days," Muzaffarnagar Superintendent of Police Raju Babu told reporters.
According to police, angry farmers also blocked the Delhi-Saharanpur highway and other busy roads in Muzaffarnagar, where they damaged a number of public vehicles.
"Irate farmers also stopped a number of trains, including the Delhi-Shamli Express and damaged rail tracks," Muzaffarnagar Senior Superintendent of Police Praveen Kumar said.
The series of violent protests in western Uttar Pradesh started from Ramala town in Muzaffarnagar, where farmers early Thursday convened a village council meeting and decided to carry out agitation in various towns, police said.
Within no time, the protests spread to other places in Muzaffarnagar, including Fugna, Lilana, and Adarsh Mandi, despite hectic police efforts to disperse the agitators.
Farmers in Baghpat district, about 400 km from Lucknow, also resorted to vandalism and forced closure of shops in the district.
"We have strengthened security in the district, particularly in those areas that have sugar mills," Baghpat's Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar told reporters.
Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) units were deployed at several places in Baghpat, including at Bijlore, Bawli, Milkarpur and Doghat, where protesting farmers barged into a number of sugar mills, officials said.
In Faizabad, about 130 km from Lucknow, farmers resorted to vandalism at the Badagaon railway station.
"Several groups of farmers stopped the Lucknow-Faizabad passenger train and also tried to damage the rail tracks at the station in the afternoon," Faizabad district police chief R.K.S. Rathore said.
In the last few days, agitated farmers have burnt truckloads of raw sugar in Muzaffarnagar and several other districts in western Uttar Pradesh, police said.
The farmers are up in arms against the state government over the state advisory price (SAP) of sugarcane that is fixed between Rs.165 and Rs.170 per quintal and are demanding they be paid at the rate of Rs.280 per quintal.