Tension prevailed in Baraut city of Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district, after a farmer who was protesting non-payment of dues by sugar mills and an increase in rural power tariff died on Saturday. The deceased, identified as Udayveer Singh, was among the 50-odd sugarcane farmers who launched the protest on May 21.

After his death, hundreds of farmers from the sugarcane belt protested outside the tehsil office. While the district administration said Singh may have died of a cardiac arrest, his family filed a first information report claiming an “unnatural death”.

Rashtriya Lok Dal leader Jayant Chaudhary said the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had increased power fees twice in the last five months. “Sugar mills have closed,” Chaudhary told The Indian Express.

“We will soon release last year’s dues,” Sub-divisional Magistrate Arvind Kumar Dwivedi told The Indian Express. “A proposal has been sent to the state headquarters. On tariff, we have promised farmers that a meeting will be arranged with the western Uttar Pradesh power authority. We can only execute the policies framed by the government.”

Baraut is 30 kilometres away from Kairana, where a Lok Sabha bye-election will be held on Monday. Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi had tried to ease tensions during his address at the inauguration ceremony of Eastern Peripheral Expressway. “I want to assure all sugarcane farmers here that the government is sensitive towards their issues and is working to resolve all problems,” Modi said.

Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s handling of the matter. “A road show will not give farmers their due payment,” Yadav told News18. “Also, the inauguration [of the expressway] which the Bharatiya Janata Party is boasting was done only after the Supreme Court’s directives and that too, only nine kilometeres of the entire expressway is being inaugurated.”

Baghpat Additional District Magistrate Lokpal Singh initially announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh for Singh’s family, but later increased it to Rs 12 lakh after the farmers protested, News18 reported.