| KOLKATA, India, Sept 3
KOLKATA, India, Sept 3 Clashes broke out in
eastern India on Wednesday between supporters and opponents of
Tata Motor's Nano, the world's cheapest car, after the firm
suspended work at the plant because of a land row.
The high-profile project in West Bengal state became
embroiled in controversy after the local opposition party
backed protests by some farmers against land seizures for the
The dispute reflects a larger standoff between industry in
India and farmers unwilling to part with land in a country
where two-thirds of the billion-plus population depend on
After weeks of protests and threats against workers, Tata
Motors Ltd. (TAMO.BO) suspended work at the plant late on
Tuesday despite investing $350 million, and said it was looking
at alternative sites for the project [BOM258065].
The decision has sparked anger among supporters of the
project, many of them members of the state's ruling communist
party or farmers who had got compensation or jobs at the
Police said Nano supporters blocked traffic on a road
leading to the factory in Singur, an hour's drive from the
capital Kolkata, and beat up activists of the opposition
Trinamool Congress who had been protesting near the plant since
"We had to use force to clear blockades by the pro-Tata
supporters, mainly those associated with the project," Raj
Kanojia, a senior police official, told Reuters.
Mamata Banerjee, chief of Trinamool Congress, had offered
talks to resolve the dispute just before Tata announced its
"Having gone bankrupt politically, the communists are
beating our people," she said.
There is anger, too, among urban citizens who see the
Trinamool protests as counterproductive to the state's efforts
Hundreds of IT workers and engineers marched in Kolkata,
covering their mouths with black cloth and holding placards
that read "Yes to Tata, No to Mamata".
The Nano project has been billed as key to the rejuvenation of
industries in West Bengal, where the world's longest-serving
democratically elected communist government has changed tack
after decades of focus on helping agriculture and poor farmers.
But many farmers say they were forced off their land and
offered paltry compensation to make way for the factory. Of
1,000 acres (400 hectares) of farmland seized for the factory,
they are demanding the return of around 400 acres.
Supporters of the car plant were also angered after news
spread that a farmer who had given land for the project and
whose sons had been offered jobs there had committed suicide.
But police did not immediately link the death to the Tata
decision to suspend work at the Nano factory in Singur.
The prospect of talks had raised hopes that the 100,000
rupee ($2,250) car could roll out on time in October to
coincide with the Indian festive season.
(Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Simon Denyer and