Monday, May 26, 2008

Villagers torch a tower near the Tata Motors factory before Mamata's rally in Singur

Singur tower torched

SINGUR: May 25: Some farmers burnt down a watchtower (photograph right) outside the boundary wall of the Tata Motors’ small car project this afternoon, triggering a strong reaction from policemen who lobbed tear gas shells to quell the mob. Earlier, agitating farmers threw stones at policemen, who were guarding the boundary wall near Bajemelia New Ujjwal Sangha, injuring a constable. The incidents took place a few hours before Trinamul Congress chief, Miss Mamata Banerjee, arrived in Singur to celebrate her party's unprecedented victory here. Senior Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee (SKJRC) members said, some overenthusiastic local residents set the watch tower on fire under the influence of alcohol and it had nothing to do with the SKJRC. Security in the area was strengthened following the incidents. Work on the project, however, was not affected. A senior district police officer said, additional force has been deployed in the area to thwart further attacks on the boundary walls. Policemen have been deployed around the watch towers which were constructed to keep an eye on neighbouring villages.
Later, addressing a rally, Miss Banerjee urged her party cadres to show restraint and not to react to violence “being unleashed by the CPI-M”. She, however, made it clear once again that her party wouldn't compromise with the legitimate demand of the farmers whose agricultural plots were acquired forcefully. She said: “Farmers of Singur will continue with the movement till they get back their plots.” n SNS

Singur sena attacks Tata wall
- Trinamul chief dubs assault on car plant site stray incident, appeals for restraint

Singur, May 25: Trinamul Congress supporters attacked police guarding the Tata Motors plant site here today and hurled burning bundles of cloth at two watchtowers inside the boundary wall, setting them ablaze.

The guards fired 10 tear gas shells to disperse them.

“Several constables were injured by brickbats hurled at them. One of the constables has a cracked skull. But we did not allow the mob to damage the boundary wall, which was their aim,” Hooghly superintendent of police Rajeev Mishra said.

The attack, with brooms, sticks and burning pieces of cloth, was launched hours before Mamata Banerjee arrived here to address a rally on the second anniversary of the launch of the Trinamul Congress-led Save Farmland Committee’s movement against land acquisition.

Exactly two years ago, around 1,000 villagers had stopped a Tata Motors team that had driven to Bajemelia for a survey of the land. The mob had surrounded the car for 40 minutes and shouted slogans saying they would give blood rather than their land.

Some villagers of Bosepukur said they had planned the attack to observe the anniversary.

At 12.30pm, some 200 people, including women, charged towards the wall.

As policemen came out of small openings in the wall and took position in front, the villagers started pelting them with brickbats.

“We still feel that the land where the factory is coming up is ours. We will break the wall any day,” thundered a broom-wielding Malati Malik of Bosepukur.

After the police burst the first few tear gas shells, some villagers hurled the burning bundles of cloth on the tarpaulin sheds of the watchtowers. “The tarpaulin sheet on one of the towers was burnt. It flew to the ground, where we poured buckets of water to douse the fire. Buckets of water were also taken up the second watchtower and the flames doused,” a police officer said.

After the villagers set fire to the watchtowers, the police fired more tear gas shells and the villagers retreated to a safe distance.

In her rally at Kamarkundu station, Mamata, mellower after the rural polls, called the attack a “stray” incident.

“It was carried out by a small section of villagers. However, the police should have tried to pacify the mob instead of firing tear gas shells at them,” she said.

Mamata asks for 400 acres

Kamarkundu, May 25: A day after flexing muscles over the government’s acquisition of farmland for industry, an unusually soft Mamata Banerjee appealed to the Tatas with “folded hands” to return 400 acres taken over from “unwilling landowners” for the car plant in Singur.

“I am appealing to the Tatas with folded hands to set up their car plant on 600 acres and return another 400 acres to the unwilling farmers. I hope good sense prevails,” Mamata told a rally outside Kamarkundu station, about 55km from Calcutta, this afternoon.

Truckloads of people, including many housewives, had been brought over from neighbouring Howrah and Nadia for Mamata’s first public meeting after her party’s rural poll success in parts of south Bengal.

“We will have to be more restrained and patient. A sustained movement will help us reach our goal,” the Trinamul Congress chief told the rally to mark the second anniversary of the protest against the Tata Motors project in Singur.

She told the gathering to “silently” carry on the movement against “forcible” land acquisition.

Trinamul sources said Mamata’s change of mind was prompted by the realisation that the rollout of the Nano from Singur in a few months had become inevitable.

“As a face-saving device, Didi will keep harping on the return of 400 acres. This is her political compulsion,” said a Singur Trinamul leader.

Mamata today almost disowned those who marched to the Tata project site in the afternoon and tried to torch two watchtowers. “This was a stray incident and our supporters had nothing to do with it,” she said.

Becharam Manna, a con-vener of the Trinamul-led Sa- ve Farmland Committee, said: “Instead of pulling down the Tata Motors wall, we will have to build a sustained movement to get back the 400 acres from the Tatas.”

Manna has been elected to the Singur panchayat samiti, which Trinamul wrested from the CPM in the rural polls.


No question of returning land: CPM

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, May 25: Mr Jyoti Basu, veteran CPI-M leader today made it clear the state government is in no mood to return 400 acres of the land for the Tata small car unit to farmers as demanded by Trinamul chief Miss Mamata Banerjee. He said this after attending the party's state committee meeting on the recent poll debacle. He reiterated what Mr Nirupam Sen, state industry minister said, “there is no roll back in the state's industrialisation policy''.
Mr Kshiti Goswami, state _PWD minister and RSP senior leader today said the state government should reconsider the industrialisation policy as the poll results show the disapproval of the voters against the state government's acquisition of farmland.
Mr Basu said, "There is no question of returning 400 acres of land, then how will the automobile industry come up? We need industry and if the Opposition is try to stall the work by sabotage then people across the state will realise the Opposition does not want development, they are basically opportunists and have defeated our candidates by forming a grand alliance.''He said dialogues on compensation could be resumed.
Mr Subhas Chakroborty, state transport minister, said the poll result would not stall the industrialisation process but “we have to convey this to people''.