The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singur farmers threaten to fight
- Citu lines up rally to drum up support for land acquisition

Singur/Calcutta, Aug. 18: Defiant members of the Krishi Jami Banchao (save farmland) Committee today threatened to go into a confrontation with police if attempts were made to forcibly acquire land for Tata Motors’ car factory.

A day after the chief minister warned of police action to “foil the politically-motivated opposition” to land acquisition at Singur, a leader of the farmers’ group opposing the takeover said they were “ready to give our blood, but not not part with our land”.

“Acquisition of land for the Tata project will be opposed tooth and nail. There will be a bloody struggle and no one but the administration will be held responsible for it,” added Becharam Manna, the convener of the committee.

The Tatas want over 1,000 acres at Singur in Hooghly, about 45 km from Calcutta. The company is set to roll out a dream car for the middle-class, priced at Rs 1 lakh, from the unit.

The CPM’s labour arm, Citu, has lined up a rally at Kamarkundu, some 10 km from Singur, tomorrow to convince farmers about the benefits of the project.

Its leaders, who had lined up similar roadshows earlier, today said that a majority of the farmers would volunteer to give up land.

The party has already received pledges for over 500 acres.

Dilip Chatterjee, Citu’s Hooghly secretary, said: “Farmers are not against the government’s industrialisation drive. And we shall prove it tomorrow with a massive turnout at the rally.”

A section of the farmers, he alleged, is being “taken for a ride by the Trinamul Congress”.

Led by its local MLA, the party has been opposing the land acquisition.

“Farmers who had once joined forces with Trinamul Congress have come back to our fold realising their mistakes,” Chatterjee claimed.

Trinamul MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya said tomorrow’s rally would prove a damp squib despite Citu’s muscle flexing. “Citu men have already threatened farmers with dire consequences if they do not turn up for the rally. But they will not bow to pressure.”

Additional district magistrate Liakat Ali said police have been asked to treat as an FIR the mass petition by 25 government officials, who were prevented by some villagers on Monday from serving notices for the hearing of farmers’ objections to the acquisition of their land. The petition was filed at the Singur police station last night.

Land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah said in Calcutta the acquisition is on in full swing. “The hearing of complaints in five mouzas of Singur where land for the Tatas has been earmarked would be over by August 28.”

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