| Protesters demonstrate at the Singur BDO's office on Thursday. Picture by Uttam Dutta
Singur, June 1: About 3,000 villagers today staged a demonstration in front of the office of the Singur block development officer against the government's move to acquire farmland for the Tata Motors project.
The Tatas have chosen the site in Hooghly district, about 45 km from Calcutta, for their small-car project.
Local Trinamul MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharyya was with the protesters throughout the demonstration to express his support.
The villagers, under the banner of the Krishijami Banchao Committee (Save Farmland Committee), brought out a procession around noon. Waving sickles, ploughs and brooms, they shouted slogans against chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen.
The protesters carried placards with slogans like 'Krishi jami aamader bhitti, tabu Budhhar eki kukirti (Farmland is our livelihood, but look at Buddha's (Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's) misdeed' and 'Jamir dalal Nirupam Sen Singur theke door hato (Land broker Nirupam Sen stay off Singur)'.
Sen had visited Singur on Tuesday to explain to the villagers about compensation they would get for land given to the government. He had also tried to convince farmers that it made more sense for them to sell their land instead of using it for cultivation.
The protesters, with about 1,000 women at the head, gathered at the BDO's office and demonstrated for two hours against the government's move to 'dispossess farmers of their farmland'.
They submitted a deputation to BDO Abhijit Mukherjee who said he was yet to receive a government order for acquisition of land and was not in a position to shed light on the issue. 'The villagers came to talk about land acquisition but I told them that the district magistrate is empowered to deal with the issue.'
Bhattacharyya said the farmers' movement would continue till the government relents. 'Just watch what we do in the days to come. The government has become shameless. We do want industrialisation but not at the cost of farmers. Lakhs of acres are lying unused in Dankuni. Let the Tatas set up industry there.'
Samar Baora, secretary of the CPM-controlled Krishak Sabha, said: 'Those who joined the agitation are misguided. We hope they will give up their land for the Tata project, realising that industrialisation is the need of the hour.'