Eight people have reportedly been killed when violence broke out in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday after a car linked to a federal minister ran over two farmers taking part in a protest against controversial farm laws.
A farmers’ union spokesperson said Sunday the deaths happened after a convoy of vehicles associated with junior home affairs minister Ajay Mishra Teni “ran over several protesters.”The incident took place in the Lakhimpur Kheri district, about 130 kilometers (81 miles) north of the state’s capital Lucknow.
“In the unfortunate incident of Lakhimpur, eight casualties have been reported till now as per the district administration,” state police tweeted in the early hours of Monday morning.
CNN reports that they have reached out to police officials for confirmation of the reports but have not yet heard back.
Protests in Lakhimpur Kheri began on September 25 after Teni reportedly said “farmers should reform themselves or they will be reformed,” according to CNN affiliate CNN-News18.
Tensions escalated Sunday when the state’s deputy chief minister was due to visit the district alongside Teni. Protesters blocked the helipad where he was due to land, and the ministers were forced to make their journey by road, leading to violence with Teni’s convoy.
Teni denied farmers’ allegations that his son was present at the incident, but said a car driven by “our driver” had lost control and hit the farmers after “miscreants” pelted stones at the vehicle and attacked it with sticks and swords, Reuters reported.”If my son would’ve been there, he wouldn’t have come out alive,” he told Reuters TV partner ANI.