The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bandh later, blockade now

Singur, Sept. 25: Land acquisition for the Tata factory in Singur entered the final leg of political conflict today with Mamata Banerjee calling a road and rail blockade tomorrow and announcing a 24-hour Bengal bandh on October 9.

The CPM described her agitation as an attack on the state’s “development”.

The Trinamul Congress blockade across the state will take place between 11 and 12 noon, with support from the state Congress. About October 9, Mamata said: “It will start as a 24-hour bandh but can be extended to 72 hours, if necessary.”

She began an indefinite hunger strike here, about 40 km from Calcutta, demanding withdrawal of notices for acquisition of land sent by the state government to those who have not agreed to sell.

On Saturday, the government issued a notice that 993 acres had been acquired, which means just over 400 acres it would take over from farmers who have not agreed to sell by paying compensation.

“I shall not budge an inch from here until the government withdraws its acquisition notice,” Mamata said.

In line with their recent electoral bonhomie, Mamata was joined by state Congress leader Abdul Mannan, also a former MLA from Hooghly, of which Singur is a part.

The administration today started distributing cheques against the acquired land from the block development officer’s office, which came under Mamata’s siege, the victims being Binod Kumar, the DM, Supratim Sarkar, the SP, and Abhijit Mukherjee, the BDO himself.

The siege continued till the time of going to press.

“The government’s notification is illegal since land has been acquired forcibly for a private entrepreneur and not for public purpose,” Mamata said.

She arrived around 4.30 pm and was joined by over 3,000 people, including women armed with brooms and sticks.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was informed of the development as chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb sat with home secretary Prasad Ranjan Ray and other officials to discuss strategy.

After a three-hour meeting, Deb said force would not be used to remove Mamata.

The home secretary added: “We are talking to those agitating in Singur. We will take a decision later on distributing cheques tomorrow.”

CPM state secretary Biman Bose said about the blockade: “It is an attack on the farmers who have come to collect money for the land they have willingly handed over to the government. It is an attack on the development of the state.”

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