Sunday, January 7, 2007

Two killed in clash over West Bengal industrial hub

Two killed in clash over West Bengal industrial hub
Sun Jan 7, 2007 5:06 PM IST137

KOLKATA (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and dozens injured in eastern India on Sunday after rival political activists hurled crude bombs and fired handguns over the acquisition of farmland for an industrial hub, police said.

The industrial zone is to be built in West Bengal state with help from Indonesian conglomerate the Salim Group, but the project has faced opposition from farmers refusing to give up their land.

The violence erupted in Nandigram, about 150 km north of Kolkata, capital of the communist-ruled state, which has been wooing domestic and foreign investors over the past few years.

"At least two persons are dead, but there are rumours of more people killed which we are verifying," Ashok Dutta, a senior police official told Reuters.

Anger has simmered among Nandigram's farmers, but on Sunday tensions boiled over as villagers and supporters of opposition parties clashed with communist cadres.

Villagers dug up roads and bridges to Nandigram to prevent police and communist cadres from reaching a 14,500 acre plot demarcated for the industrial zone.

Opposition parties have called a 24-hour strike across West Bengal on Monday to protest the deaths of their supporters in Sunday's violence.

The communist government has angered opposition parties and many of its traditional supporters among poor farmers by its drive to acquire land for several industrial projects, including a small car plant by India's Tata group.

But the state government -- the world's longest-ruling, democratically elected communist administration -- said it would continue to acquire land for industrial projects.

"We are doing everything for the good of the people and the state, which the opposition should understand," Biman Bose, a communist leader told reporters.


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