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Jamait shuts door on talks, leaves bolt loose

Calcutta, Jan. 28: The Jamait Ulema-i-Hind ruled out any immediate talks with the government over land acquisition tonight but left the door ajar saying a letter from the chief minister could alter their stand.

“Sports minister Subhas Chakraborty requested me over the phone this morning for a one-to-one with the chief minister on February 6. But that’s not possible unless Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee writes to us,” general secretary Siddiqullah Chowdhury said after a Jamait meeting tonight.

Chakraborty was not available for comment. One of his aides said he would discuss the proposal with Bhattacharjee tomorrow.

Twenty-two organisations met at the Jamait’s Rabindra Sarani office this evening. Chowdhury, the convener of their umbrella organisation, said they would organise a Singur chalo (march to Singur) on February 7 against “the government’s move to grab farmland” for industry.

He told a rally in Nandigram yesterday that the minister and CPM state secretariat member Madan Ghosh had requested him to start a dialogue with Bhattacharjee in the wake of the violence that rocked the region three weeks ago.

“Chakraborty came to my Bankra (North 24-Parganas) house four days ago and requested me to speak to the chief minister. But I told him I could consider it only after a meeting of the forum. It decided that I could meet the chief minister only if he wrote to us,” he said tonight.

“Bhattacharjee’s letter should reach us before the march to Singur,” he added.

The Jamait shot into limelight with the Nandigram violence in which seven people were killed. It was one of the key players in getting villagers to rally against the government’s plans to acquire over 10,000 acres there.

The momentum against the acquisition had been built over the past few months, Chowdhury said.

“In October, we visited select houses in the 27 mouzas where the government had planned to take over farmland. Then we distributed 600 forms to carry out a survey if the people were willing to hand over land for a special economic zone. But only 12 said they were willing to sell their land for a good price.”

Village and block committees to resist acquisition were formed after that.

Mamata Banerjee has requested the Jamait chief to attend a meeting of the Trinamul Congress-backed Krishi Jomi Raksha (Save Farmland) Committee tomorrow, which she would attend.

“We are happy that Mamata has written to us but we have not decided whether to attend it,” Chowdhury said.

Left Front leaders welcomed the government’s effort to initiate a dialogue with Chowdhury. “We are happy. It should have been done earlier,” said the RSP’s Kshiti Goswami.

Nandagopal Bhattacharya of the CPI, too, said: “It’s a step in the right direction.”

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