Friday, August 15, 2008

Three die in clashes between Indian farmers, police

NEW DELHI, Aug 13 (Reuters) - At least three farmers were shot dead and 60 injured in clashes between hundreds of farmers and police over a land row near India's capital on Wednesday, officials said.

Recent stand-offs over farm acquisitions in India reflect a larger anger among farmers and tribes fighting to save their land from factories as the country's economic priorities shift from agriculture to industry.

The clashes in Greater Noida, about 40 minutes' drive east of New Delhi, came during protests by about 2,000 farmers who were demanding more compensation for land acquired by the government for building a township in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Police first beat protesters with batons to stop them from storming a government building, local officials said. When that failed they then opened fire, killing the three farmers.

"When they were prevented from gate crashing into the Greater Noida office, they started pelting stones on the cops, many of whom were injured ... they had to use force to disperse the crowds," senior government official V.S. Pandey told reporters.

Last week, farmers in the east of West Bengal state renewed protests against a car factory set up by India's Tata Motors on farmland, possibly delaying the launch of the Nano, hailed as the world's cheapest car.

Farmers have also vowed to protest against last week's Supreme Court verdict allowing South Korean steel firm POSCO the use of large swathes of forest land to build a $12 billion plant.

The court also gave Britain's Vedanta Resources Plc permission to mine bauxite in hills held sacred by an ancient tribe. Tribe members have vowed to fight against that decision.

Other officials in Greater Noida said the death toll could rise because several more farmers were fighting for their lives in hospital. About a dozen vehicles were damaged in the protests, they said. (Reporting by Bappa Majumdar and Sharath Pradhan; Editing by Paul Tait)

Source: Reuters

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