Seven burned to death in east India protest against factory

Police in eastern India are investigating reports that villagers protesting against a noisy stone-crushing factory burned to death its three owners and four employees, authorities said today.

Police in eastern India are investigating reports that villagers protesting against a noisy stone-crushing factory burned to death its three owners and four employees, authorities said today.

A clash broke out as the victims rallied to defend the plant against residents angry about blasting, dust and noise in Orissa state’s remote Bandaguda village, district police superintendent Nitinjit Singh said.

Police suspect the villagers set the seven on fire after locking them in a room near the crusher before midnight last night, Mr Singh said.

About 200 police officers were deployed to the area.

Post-mortem examinations were being conducted on the charred bodies, which have been identified as the factory’s three owners, a security guard and other employees, Mr Singh said. No suspects have been arrested.

There has been tension over the crusher since it was set up a year ago on the outskirts of the village, about 400km from the state capital of Bhubaneswar.

Some complain that the crusher is noisy and fills the air with dust as it pulverises boulders and rocks for material used in making cement and other building materials. Others who work at the plant claim they are often not paid on time or in full.

Other areas in India have also had protests against stone crushers, as construction companies scramble for building supplies to keep up with a surge in construction fuelled by India’s economic growth.

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