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Strike Sparked by Killings Paralyzes India's West Bengal State

  • VOA News

India's West Bengal state was paralyzed on Friday by a general strike called to protest this week's killing of 14 villagers as they demonstrated against the government's seizure of farmland.

Schools, businesses and shops across the eastern state were closed, but government offices remained open.

Scattered violence was reported in the state capital, Kolkata, where protesters burned at least two buses and disrupted train service. Police say about 200 people were detained.

The nation's junior home minister Sriprakash Jaiswal said the West Bengal government is working to quell the unrest.

Demonstrators blame the state's communist rulers for Wednesday's killings in the town of Nandigram, where the government wants to set up a chemical industry hub and "Special Economic Zone."

Officials in West Bengal say violence flared Wednesday when villagers attacked police as officers tried to enter the farmland. The officials say police opened fire to disperse the villagers.

West Bengal's highest court has asked India's Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the incident.

The day after the shootings onThursday, villagers set fire to a local government building.

The violence also has prompted the federal government to put on hold the project of developing other proposed "Special Economic Zones" across the country.

The government has been promoting the project as a major incentive for foreign investors that will boost the country's economic growth.

More from our Kolkata stringer Pramasish Ghosh Roy.



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