Police Kill At Least 6 Protesting SEZ's in India
CALCUTTA, India (AP) - Farmers in eastern India angered by government
plans to build an industrial park on their land fought police with
rocks, machetes and pickaxes Wednesday, and at least 11 people were
killed, officials said.
The clashes broke out when police tried to enter villages in the Nandigram
area for the first time since January, when violence forced officers
to abandon their posts in the vicinity.
Those disturbances prompted the government to temporarily suspend
plans for scores of so-called Special Economic Zones, which are meant
to attract investors with generous tax breaks.
Most of the zones, including the one planned for Nandigram, were to
be built on farmland.
The violence has ignited a national debate over whether farms should
be razed for factories in India, where about two-thirds of the country's
more than 1 billion people live off agriculture.
All those killed Wednesday were farmers, bringing the death toll in
Nandigram since violence first erupted there to 18, said Amit Kiran
Deb, a senior government official.
He added that 39 people were wounded, including 14 police officers.
Vohra said the death toll was likely to rise because many of the injured
were in critical condition.
Private NDTV reported earlier that at least seven people had been
killed, all of them when police opened fire.
The trouble in Nandigram began Jan. 7, after the leak of government
plans to acquire 22,000 acres of land and build a petrochemical plant
and shipyard in a Special Economic Zone.
The hastily formed Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh, or Land Acquisition Resistance
Committee in the region's Bengali language, organized protests that
quickly degenerated into violence.
After six people were killed, West Bengal's government said it would
reconsider its plans. The federal government soon followed suit, temporarily
suspending the approval of new Special Economic Zones.
Meanwhile, police in West Bengal effectively abandoned Nandigram to
the farmers, who turned their villages into bristling little garrisons
— digging trenches across roads and erecting barricades to keep officers
But the area has since been plagued by sporadic clashes between members
of the resistance committee and supporters of the Communist Party
of India, which governs West Bengal.
A policeman was killed nearby in February, prompting the government
to announce it would send officers back into Nandigram in an attempt
to restore order.
FAIR USE NOTICE. This document contains copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. India Resource Center is making this article available in our efforts to advance the understanding of corporate accountability, human rights, labor rights, social and environmental justice issues. We believe that this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law. If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use,' you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.