Six farmers were killed by Indian police and several more injured as protests for fair pay and loan waivers became violent in Mandsaur in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, a TV station reported Tuesday.

NDTV showed injured farmers bleeding in hospital beds, as strikes turned violent. Rioting farmers dumped milk, grain and other produce on the roads and set fire to their crops. Protesters also cut off supplies to major cities this week, causing food prices to soar.

The Business Standard reported that farmers were pelting police with stones when officers decided to fire at the crowd. A senior official, O.M. Jha, told news agency IANS, “Around 2 p.m., in order to control the agitated farmers, the police had to open fire in which two farmers died and several others were injured.” 

Farmers had ransacked a police station and were conducting protests at a railway crossing, news reports said.

A Madhya Pradesh state minister blamed the injuries and deaths on the farmers. Appearing on NDTV, the state minister for home and transport, Bhupendra Singh, said, “There was no firing by the police; an investigation has been launched.” He said that bullets were fired by “anti-social elements.”

A statewide strike will continue Wednesday.