The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Land vigil vow in Singur
- No CPM leader spoke to us, says villager

Singur/ Calcutta, June 7: Villagers, many of them women, rallied behind a Trinamul Congress-led front at Singur today, pledging to fight the acquisition of their farmland.

The government wants to acquire 1,000 acres there for Tata Motors' small-car project.

Many of those fearing eviction mobbed the team led by Trinamul's Saugata Roy and Partha Chatterjee, which visited seven villages in three panchayat areas ' Gopalnagar, KGD (Kamarkundu, Gopalnagar and Doluigachha together) and Bajemelia.

'How will I feed my children if I lose my meagre 16 cottahs' I will resist the takeover to the last drop of my blood,' declared a middle-aged Jyotsna Barik at Bajemelia.

Rupa Satra, who has about an acre of triple-crop land, told the visitors from the city: 'I won't give it up' I'll sit guard at night.'

The government will acquire around 40,000 acres across south Bengal. Industries minister Nirupam Sen has said investors have to be given the right to choose where they want to set up shop.

There was a sense of betrayal in what Naba Ghosh, a graduate whose family owns over three acres at Singur, said: 'The Left front government had given us the land. It's an irony of history that the same government is snatching it away from us.'

Narayan Das, a postgraduate, too, does not think that industry can provide an alternative. 'The government couldn't provide me a job. I eke out a living for the seven members of my family by selling the produce of my land. I'm scared of starvation now.'

In the face of their fellow villagers' anger, some local CPM workers today sounded unsure about the future. 'We heard that the factory would need 16,000 litres of water every day. Our fields will become arid...' said Syamapada Das.

'No Krishak Sabha leader has bothered to meet us,' said Sanatan Koley.

Becharam Manna, a leader of the save-land committee formed recently to resist the acquisition, said: 'Let the industries come up on the land of the 41,000 closed mills.'

Predictably, the Trinamul team tried to cash in. 'Your mood suggests that a new Tebhaga movement is in the offing,' Roy said, alluding to the historic movement of share-croppers demanding two-thirds of the produce in the 1940s.

His boss, Mamata Banerjee, will visit Singur on June 18.

Senior CPM peasant leaders, however, insisted that many farmers were ready to sell their land voluntarily. 'Trinamul is trying to fish in troubled waters,' Samar Baora, the state secretary of the Krishak Sabha, said at Writers'.

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