The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata sounds bugle for Salim showdown

Calcutta, Oct. 17: Mamata Banerjee today threatened a 'bandh-like' situation across the state on Thursday when Salim Group boss Benny Santoso arrives in the city and her party workers stall roads in protest.

'I am against calling a bandh immediately after the Puja, but I should not be blamed if a bandh-like situation prevails across Bengal on Thursday. I appeal to parents not to send their children to schools that day as they might find it difficult to return home,' the Trinamul Congress chief said.

She also apologised to people in advance and asked them to 'bear with us'.

Trinamul supporters will block 'all important roads' between 12 noon and 3 pm on October 20 to protest against Santoso's visit.

Santoso is scheduled to finalise plots for Salim projects in the two 24-Parganas and Howrah during his trip.

'We cannot simply allow the CPM to take away agricultural land from poor farmers to satisfy a group of businessmen from Indonesia,' Mamata thundered at a news conference this afternoon.

'If police apply force to stop our demonstration, they will be responsible in the event of untoward incidents.'

The chief minister had earlier said that the government would not touch multi-crop land and would compensate farmers adequately even if their mono-crop or fallow plots were taken over.

State CPM secretary Anil Biswas today reiterated that the administration would rein in Trinamul supporters standing in Santoso's way.

Raj Kanojia, the inspector- general, law and order, said: 'The police would do everything to ensure safe movement of the Salim team during its stay in the city. We have already worked out the security measures in consultation with the agencies concerned.'

Mamata said she would be present through the three-hour agitation to see to it that 'Buddhadebbabu's friends do not enter the city'.

All 'like-minded parties' have been invited to Mamata's show of strength. 'I also appeal to the CPM partners to be part of our protests,' she said.

Farmers, she added, will stage a sit-in at Salop in Howrah and Bhangar in South 24-Parganas, where the Salim representatives are expected to go on recce missions, from Wednesday night.

The Trinamul leader resented Calcutta police's restrictions on airport entry and exit for three days from Wednesday in connection with Santoso's visit. 'I am surprised to know that Calcutta police will take control of the entire airport and close all entrances barring the main gate for three days only to facilitate the safe arrival of the Salim representatives. How can airport gates be closed for them' Are they VVIPs' she asked.

The Congress, too, has planned demonstrations at the airport and across the city on Thursday. 'We won't join Trinamul, but our youths will be on roads,' said working president Pradip Bhattacharya.

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