Sunday, June 15, 2008

Mamata gives Singur dharna call

Mamata gives Singur dharna call

Singur, June 14: Mamata Banerjee has announced an indefinite dharna outside the Tata Motors car plant from August 20 if the government does not return the 400 acres that the Trinamul Congress says was forcibly taken from unwilling farmers.

“I appeal to all of you to take a month’s leave and picket outside the factory that has come up on your land. The state government snatched your rightful possession and all of us will have to carry on with the agitation,” she told a rally in Joymollah in Singur, where her party captured 15 of 16 gram panchayats last month.

The Trinamul chief said the next big programme in Singur would be on Martyrs’ Day, July 21. On this day in 1993, police had shot dead 13 of her supporters as they marched to Writers’ Buildings. She was in the Congress then.

Mamata said the party would give the state government a month from July 21 to return the 400 acres. “If they don’t, we will start an indefinite agitation around the factory site from August 20.”

She did not mention the Tatas by name but said the people of Singur should be prepared to spend a whole festival season at the dharna site.

“My party won’t tolerate the treatment that was meted out to the poor people of Singur. If the government doesn’t return land, be prepared to celebrate Durga puja, Kali puja and Iftar at the dharna site.”

Mamata ruled out resorting to violence, nor did she threaten to stop work at the plant. “Our movement is aimed at forcing the government to return 400 acres taken for the project. But there should not be any violent protest when the dharnas are staged. We want a peaceful agitation in Singur,” she said.

The Trinamul chief also addressed a rally at Khaserchak. “You must have understood by now that the land issue has become a sensitive one. I have told our panchayats to be very careful if the government talks about land purchase. They have been asked to keep me and the leadership posted on land affairs.”

Asked about Mamata’s announcement, CPM leader Benoy Konar said: “In a democracy, political parties can organise dharnas. But if she violates the law, the administration will have to take action.”