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Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 06:41 GMT
Strike over violence shuts Bengal
Closed shops in Calcutta after a general strike on 12 November
The strike has affected business in the state
A strike by opposition parties against political violence in India's eastern state of West Bengal has led to a widespread shutdown.

Schools and offices are closed and transport disrupted in the capital, Calcutta, and across the state.

Federal policemen have been sent to Nandigram, where at least eight people have died in clashes since last week.

There have been skirmishes in the area between armed supporters of the ruling Communist and opposition parties.

A railway station in the suburb of Barasat was ransacked by strikers on Monday, and at least one passenger bus was set on fire by the strikers in Calcutta.

Bengal's opposition parties, led by the Trinamul Congress party, have called for an "indefinite" general strike in protest against last week's violence in Nandigram, a cluster of villages south-west of Calcutta.

'War zone'

One thousand federal policemen have been sent to Nandigram, where more than 10,000 people have been left homeless by the political violence.

Officials say hundreds of armed supporters of Bengal's ruling Communist party have fought their way back into the area.

They had been forced out in March amid protests against the state government's plan to acquire land to set up a special economic zone.

The BBC's Subir Bhaumik, in Calcutta, says Communist party supporters are blocking entry into the Nandigram area.

The leader of the Trinamul Congress party, Mamata Banerjee, could not enter the area on Sunday because of the blockade.

Family members of Communist party workers return to their village in Nandigram on 11 November 2007
More than 10,000 people have become homeless in Nandigram

Ms Banerjee resigned her parliament seat on Saturday in protest against the violence in the area.

Some of Bengal's leading filmmakers, artists and writers have condemned the violence. The filmmakers have withdrawn their films and boycotted an ongoing state-run film festival in Calcutta.

Senior West Bengal official Prasad Roy has described Nandigram as a "war zone".

State Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi has condemned the violence and accused the state government of failing to protect the people of the area from attacks by Communist supporters.

Amid protests over the land-reform plans, 14 farmers were shot dead by police in the Nandigram area on 14 March, and the government said it would move the project elsewhere.

Hundreds of Marxist supporters fled the area with their families.

The latest violence is linked to their efforts to return home, our correspondent says.

SEE ALSO
Two killed in West Bengal clash
06 Nov 07 |  South Asia
Farmers and Marxists at loggerheads
16 Mar 07 |  South Asia
'The land grab must be stopped'
16 Mar 07 |  South Asia
Violence marks Bengal shutdown
08 Jan 07 |  South Asia
'Bengal Maoists' target car plant
04 Dec 06 |  South Asia
West Bengal hit by general strike
09 Oct 06 |  South Asia
Economic zone plans polarise India
02 Oct 06 |  South Asia

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