Police opened fire on a political rally in eastern India, killing four people and wounding 25 others. Police said the demonstrators attacked first, but rally organizers said the event had been peaceful until police started shooting.
Tuesday’s rally in West Bengal state organized by the All India Forward Bloc party, a key ally of the Communist-led state government, was called to demand jobs and put an end to industrial development on farmland, local inspector general of police R. S. Nalwa said.
“The police had to resort to firing after they were attacked by the party’s unruly supporters,” Nalwa said, adding that police tried and failed to control the crowd through the use of batons and tear gas.
The protesters pelted police with stones and set a police vehicle on fire, he said.
Udayan Guha, a local Forward Block official, said the police fired on peaceful protesters.
The four killed were members of the Forward Bloc, while 20 of the 25 wounded were police personnel, Nalwa said.
The incident took place in Cooch Behar district, about 800 kilometres northeast of state capital Calcutta.
Protests against the state government’s plans to create special economic zones, designed to draw foreign investment, have flared up across West Bengal in the past year.
Violent protests forced the government to scrap plans for a special economic zone in the Nandigram area. That zone was to include a shipyard and a petrochemical plant on 8,900 hectares (22,000 acres) of farmland.
At least 35 people were killed during the months of protests over that project. (AP)
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