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Policeman killed, Twenty hurt in clashes over Singur

KOLKATA (Reuters) - Twenty people were injured on Wednesday in clashes between police and activists opposed to a proposed Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the communist-ruled state of West Bengal.

Four policemen, including an officer, were among the injured near Nandigram, about 150 km south of the state capital, Kolkata, where the SEZ is being planned.
Meanwhile, a police intelligence official was reported missing from the area and is suspected to have been killed in the clashes, Raj Kanojia, a senior police official said.

Protesters dug up roads and attacked police with iron rods and stones.
The Nandigram SEZ project has become a flashpoint between the state's long-ruling communists and farmers who say their prime agriculture land is being taken away. Six people have died and about 100 hurt in protests over the project in recent weeks.

In the meantime, farmers opposed to a controversial car factory near Kolkata broke part of a fence around the site on Wednesday. Two police jeeps were also damaged near the site at Singur. Police fired teargas shells to disperse the farmers.

Tata Motors started work to build its factory in Singur last month to make what the company claims will be the world's cheapest car for 100,000 rupees.

But the project, which has become a test case for the communists, has been mired in trouble with some farmers saying the government took their land against their wills. The government says it has compensated most of the affected farmers.

There have been regular protests in Singur for the past few weeks.On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Muslims belonging to the Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind group, headed towards a village near Singur, planning to hold a rally against the project later in the day.

A large police contingent was deployed but activists said they were undeterred. "This is just the beginning of (a) huge protest against the communist government's police," Siddiqullah Chowdhury, general secretary of the group, said.

Cop killed

Reports say the policeman, a district intelligence official, was beaten up, and his body dragged away by the protesters. Police have launched a massive hunt for his body.
Four other policemen, including the officer in charge of he Bhowanipur station, have been injured and are now in the hospital.
The protesters resisting land acquisition have categorically said that they would not stop protesting till the government assures them that there will be no SEZ in Nandigram


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posted by Bimal 7.2.07,


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