Officials said four farmers lost their lives when junior home minister Ajay Mishra’s vehicle is believed to have hit them in the Uttar Pradesh town of Lakhimpur Kheri on Sunday.
Mr Mishra said his driver and three members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were in the car and were then killed by protesters as violence broke out after the incident.
“They were beaten to death by the farmers,” he said in a statement.
Farm leaders alleged that Mr Mishra’s son was in the car when it ran over the demonstrators, but he denied it.
Police said they had so far arrested six people and filed a criminal complaint against 14 more, including the minister’s son, in connection with the death of the four farmers.
The BJP also lodged a criminal complaint against the protesting farmers over the death of its members and the driver, said Arvind Chaurasia, a senior official in charge of the district.
Police also said they had recovered the body of a local journalist from where the violence took place, but did not provide further details on how he was killed.
Farming leaders are demanding a judicial investigation and compensation for the families of the dead protesters – and want action against the minister and his son, saying Mr Mishra should be removed from office.
The Indian authorities have suspended internet services and barred political leaders from entering Lakhimpur Kheri in an effort to calm tensions.
Police officer Arun Kumar Singh said schools have been shut in the district and people have been advised to stay indoors following the violence.
Rakesh Tikait, a senior farming leader, said the bodies will not be cremated until the government accepts their demands.
The incidents in Lakhimpur Kheri marked an escalation in protests against agriculture laws that farmers say will shatter their livelihoods – and fresh protests spread to New Delhi as more information about the deaths emerged.
The protests initially started when the government passed the new laws last September and have been one of the biggest challenges faced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Last week, thousands of farmers gathered at the edges of the capital New Delhi to mark one year of demonstrations.
The government says the changes in the laws were needed to modernise agriculture and boost production through private investment, but the farmers say the laws will devastate their earnings by ending guaranteed pricing and will force them to sell their crops to corporations at cheaper rates.
The protests have been largely peaceful, though clashes in January left one protester dead and hundreds injured in Delhi.
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