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Fresh clashes in Singur
40 injured; 1000 held
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, January 28
Violence erupted again at Singur and several other adjoining places today when the police and Trinamool Congress workers and supporters were involved in pitched battles at least at four entry points over the construction of the Tata Motors plant on the farm land forcibly acquired by the state government.

The police fired several rounds of bullets in the air, burst tear gas shells and used water cannons to disperse the angry mob attacking the police pickets.

At least 1,000 persons, including the farmers affected and members of their family, were arrested.

In the clashes, at least 40 persons, including workers and supporters of the Trinamool Congress, were injured.

The angry party workers burnt the pillars at several points of the boundary walls of Tata Motors site at Singur.

The Tata Motors showroom on the National Highway 2, near Jaypur, was attacked, smashed and set on fire.

CPI(M) secretary Biman Bose yesterday led a procession towards Nandigram, but the procession could not enter the farmers’ protected zone.

Mr Bose tried to arouse public opinion in support of the decision to acquire farm land for Tata Motors, Indonesia’s Salim group of industries and others.

Ms Mamata Banerjee declared that the agitation would continue till the farmers evicted were not returned their farm land at Singur.

Terming chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee a liar and an arrogant fascist, Mr Banerjee called upon partners of the Left Front like the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc, which had been opposing the chief minister’s land acquisition policy for industries, to come out of the front and join the poor farmers in their rightful struggle.

She asked her party workers and members and supporters of the Krishi Bachao Committee to observe a black day tomorrow in protest against police excesses on their peaceful processions and demonstrations today.

According to reports reaching the Writers Building, a large number of Trinamool Congress workers and supporters, who were marching towards Singur today from several directions, were forcibly obstructed by paramilitary forces and the state police, posted at the entry points.

PTI adds: At Maitipara, the agitation was led by MP and Trinamool Congress general secretary Mukul Roy.

Trinamool sources claimed that the party’s youth wing chief Madan Mitra and women’s front president Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar were among the injured.

Condemning the police action, senior Trinamool Congress legislator Sougata Roy said, “This is an example of how far the Left Front government can go to act as an agent of the Tatas.

“Though prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed only in the

Singur police station area, Trinamool Congress activists were stopped far away from Singur, at places where prohibitory orders have not been enforced.

“This is a wanton misuse of state power to curb the democratic movement and help a particular industrialist.”

Mr Roy said the Krishijami Raksha Committee would sit tomorrow to chalk out the future course of action.

“Only after that will we be able to spell out further steps to force the government keep its commitment to return the forcibly acquired land to the farmers”, he said. Mr Roy said the agitation against the Tata Motors factory at Singur would be intensified further as the West Bengal Government had not kept its promise of holding a dialogue on the issue.

Admitting that there was some violence today, including vandalisation of a Tata Motors godown at Jaypur, Mr Roy blamed the government for things coming to such a head.

“We do not want the movement to be violent, but in an agitation, some things happen that cannot always be controlled”, he said.

West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee working president Pradip Bhattacharya also blamed the state government for today’s violence in different parts of Hooghly district and said, “The government had promised to talk with the opposition, but it reneged”.

“Instead of using force, the government should have called the opposition parties for discussion to reach an amicable solution”, he said over telephone from Delhi.

He condemned the violent incidents and attack on the Tata godown and said, “We do not believe in the politics of violence and we must stay away from violence as that will lead to a loss of focus”.

Claiming that the people of the state wanted industrialisation, CPI(M) MP Rupchand Pal alleged that the agitation was mindless. “In West Bengal, new industries have not been set up for a long time and now, when those are being installed, those should not be stopped by the mindless acts of some people”, Mr Pal said.

Regarding allegations of the chief minister’s failure to keep his promise of talks with the Trinamool Congress supremo, he said, “She can meet the chief minister any time and talk about the issue”.

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