Thursday, May 24, 2007

Fresh violence in Singur

SINGUR/NAKASHIPARA, May 20: Fresh trouble erupted at Singur today when farmers tried to demolish the boundary wall of the proposed Tata small car factory in a bid to reoccupy their land taken away for the project and police used lathis, burst tear gas shells and fired rubber bullets to quell the mob.
At least 60 villagers, including six women, and five policemen and the sub-divisional police officer were injured in the clash that ensued. Two of the injured villagers were admitted to Singur block hospital. Three persons were arrested.
Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee expressed surprise when he was informed of the trouble at Singur and told a rally at Nakashipara in Nadia that “only a handful of people are creating trouble against the interests of a majority of people in the state”.
“When we are trying to woo industrialists for the state’s development after our success in agriculture, a small number of people are bent on opposing us. Even, today a group of 200 people threw stones at the police at Singur when over 2,000 people are working there. Police have taken action and they fled away”.
Trouble began soon after farmers from Bajemelia mouza gathered near a local club to attend a rally organised by Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee (SKJRC). The villagers became agitated when the SKJRC leaders exhorted them to demolish the boundary wall and reoccupy their land which, according to them, the state government had “grabbed at gun-point”.
The farmers marched towards the project site and tried to break the police cordon. They also unsuccessfully tried to break the wall with shovels and pick-axes.
Police appealed to the farmers not to damage the walls, but to no effect. There was a scuffle following which agitating farmers threw stones at the cops and the police responded by using lathis and bursting tear gas shells. Rubber bullets were also fired.
A senior police officer claimed that six policemen, including Chandernagore SDPO, Mr Kalyan Mukherjee, were injured in the clash which continued for about an hour. The farmers retreated about an hour after the trouble had begun.
The SDPO later said: “About 350 villagers, including scores of women, were mobilised outside the boundary wall, whereas the SKJRC positioned its other activists at neighbouring villages.”
However, the CPI-M leaders repeated their old charge that “outsiders” had taken part in the agitation and there were about 100 people who resorted to violence. This contradicted the SDPO’s estimate of the strength of the mob.
“We learnt from local sources that it was the handiwork of about 100 outsiders, while only a few local residents joined them,” said Mr Ranjit Mondal, a CPI-M Singur zonal committee member and also president of the Left Front-controlled Singur Panchayat Samiti.
On the other hand, Mr Becharam Manna, convener, SKJRC, claimed that at least 60 farmers were injured in today’s police action. “Even aged farmers were beaten up mercilessly and police didn’t spare women and children who were unarmed,” Mr Manna alleged.
He claimed 13-year-old Somnath Koley and Haripada Das (72), both residents of Bajemelia Mouza, were rushed to Singur block hospital after being beaten up by police while 21-year-old Amita Bag was taken to a private clinic.