Police in eastern India are investigating reports that villagers protesting a noisy stone crushing plant burned to death its three owners and four employees, authorities said Saturday.
A clash broke out as the victims rallied to defend the plant against villagers 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 Friday, Singh said.
About 200 police officers were deployed to the area.
Autopsies were being conducted on the charred bodies, which have been identified as the plant's three owners, a security guard and other employees, 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 250 miles (400 kilometers) from the state capital of Bhubaneswar.
Some complain the crusher is noisy and fills the air with dust as it pulverizes 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 fueled by India's economic growth.