Police opened fire in the air when sugarcane farmers on Wednesday tried to set ablaze a gas tanker at Ashta village in this west Maharashtra district.
The incident took place when a mob of farmers, demanding hike in sugarcane price, tried to torch a gas tanker after damaging a milk tanker coming from Pune, police said.
"The farmers first damaged the milk tanker. Later they were joined by another group and intercepted a gas tanker and beat up the driver. They were trying to set on fire the tanker when police lathicharged them. As they refused to budge, we opened fire in air to disperse them," Inspector Nalawade of Ashta police station said.
Farmers have been protesting for the last few days against refusal of cooperative sugar factories in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra to give Rs 3,000 per ton as first advance on sugarcane purchase this season. Factories have agreed to pay Rs2,300 per ton.
The agitation has been spearheaded by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna leader Raju Shetty, who has been arrested.
Earlier, a mob of farmers gheraoed Ashta police station and pelted stones demanding release of four of their comrades allegedly arrested today in connection with the protests.
According to sources, the farmers marched to the police station after learning that police had allegedly beaten up their colleagues in custody.
However, Nalawade denied the reports of arrests and said the situation is under control.
A farmer was killed in police firing on Monday at Nandre village in district when a group of farmers tried to lock a police team inside a hotel after learning that Shetty had been detained in Pune district.