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Last Updated: Monday, 8 January 2007, 15:58 GMT
Violence marks Bengal shutdown
Police with Trinamul Congress demonstrator
Violent clashes have been reported in many places
Violence has been reported in many parts of India's West Bengal state during a strike held in protest at the government's industrialisation plans.

The shutdown was called a day after six people died in clashes between ruling and opposition party activists over plans to acquire farmland for industry.

Nine policemen were also injured in the unrest in the village of Nandigram.

Police said on Monday they had arrested nearly 350 activists who were trying to enforce the strike in the state.

Large numbers of policemen and soldiers of the paramilitary Rapid Action Force are patrolling the streets of the state capital, Calcutta.

Trains hit

Most shops were closed while financial institutions, schools and colleges did not function.

Police say they have foiled attempts to set fire to buses and there was very little traffic on the streets of Calcutta.

Family
Many residents are fleeing Nandigram in fear

Train services are reported to have been badly hit across the state.

Senior police officers have been sent to Nandigram, about 80km (50 miles) south-west of Calcutta, but many residents of the village have fled, fearing more violence.

Tensions in Nandigram have been mounting for some time now over the proposals to set up a special economic zone in the area.

A BBC correspondent in Calcutta says the state's governing Marxist party has decided to acquire 14,500 acres of land around Nandigram for industrial development.

Last week a development body, acting on behalf of the state government, notified village councils of the plan to set up a special economic zone.

The government has yet to issue legal notices which would begin the process of acquring farmland in Nandigram.

Protests

The issue of farm land acquisition has generated much emotion in the state in the past few months.

The government move to allot 1,000 acres of land to industrial giant, Tata Motors, to build a car factory in the Singur area in Hooghly district generated widespread protests in October.

The leader of the opposition Trinamool Congress Party went on a 25-day fast in protest at the plan. The Bharatiya Janata Party also spoke out against the plant.

Protesters argue that the Tata plant will displace scores of farmers.

But West Bengal's Chief Minister, Buddhadev Bhattacharya, says the Tata project will go ahead despite the opposition.

Observers say Mr Bhattacharya is desperately trying to attract investment to rejuvenate the state's ailing economy.

He accuses the opposition parties of stalling the state's progress.

But opposition parties say that farmers have been "forcibly uprooted" to enable the project to go ahead and want the plant built elsewhere.




SEE ALSO
West Bengal hit by general strike
09 Oct 06 |  South Asia
Analysis: India's strike ban
06 Aug 03 |  South Asia
Strike hits Tamil Nadu
02 Jul 03 |  South Asia
General strike 'cost India $320m'
22 May 03 |  Business
Striking Indians 'had no option'
21 May 03 |  South Asia
Indians in privatisation strike
21 May 03 |  Business

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