INDIA: Tata plant protesters clash with police
A long-simmering row over the seizure of farm land in eastern India for a Tata Motors Nano minicar plant today (21 August) boiled over into a violent clash between about 1,000 protesters and police.
Protesters told local media police beat a number of people who tried to march towards the plant in Singur, which is about an hour from Kolkata (once Calcutta) in the state of West Bengal, though the police claimed no one was injured in the demonstration.
The protesters were organised by supporters of India's ruling Congress party, which opposes the communist-run state government.
The protests against Tata faces reflect a larger dispute between Indian industry and farmers unwilling to part with land in a country where two-thirds of the billion-plus population depends on agriculture, local reports said.
Though the ultra-cheap Nano was launched last in January in Delhi, long-running violent protests and political opposition against the land seizures in West Bengal have threatened to delay the long-awaited launch of the 'one-lakh' (INR100,000; US$2,380) minicar.
In Singur, protesters have occasionally tried to stop work at the factory and fought with workers. An engineer had to be taken to hospital after his car was stoned last month, reports said.
They added that West Bengal's communist government last Tuesday began talking to leaders of the state's main opposition, Trinamool Congress, which has been supporting a movement by farmers unwilling to give up their land.
Tata plans to launch the Nano later this year at its new factory on a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) site in Singur.
Dealers said last June they had been hoping to open order books next month for first deliveries in October.