The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata gives 22 hours to backtrack
- Hunger strike if govt fails to respond

Calcutta, Dec. 3: Hours after she was bundled into a police car for the second time in three days to keep her away from Singur, a fuming Mamata Banerjee served an ultimatum on Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today: she will go on a hunger strike if the fencing work doesn’t stop.

“I am giving a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to stop police atrocities, land acquisition and even fencing work for the Tata project in Singur. If these are not stopped within that period, I shall go on an indefinite hunger strike from tomorrow morning,” Mamata said.

The hunger strike, under the banner of the Singur Krishi Jomi Banchao (Save Farmland) Committee, will begin from 11 am tomorrow.

Mamata served the “24-hour ultimatum” to the government around 1.30 this afternoon. Asked why she was giving the government less than 24 hours, she said: “It doesn’t matter.”

On the way back from Islampur, where she went to campaign for tomorrow’s bypoll, Mamata’s car needed refuelling around 4.40 am today.

When she was about to leave the fuel station in Dankuni, Hooghly, police stopped her and forced her into their Tata Sumo because they believed she would head to Singur from there.

Mamata denied having any such intention at the news conference this afternoon. “It is up to me whether I shall go to Singur or not. But why will my free movement in a democratic country be stopped' Are we living in a jungle'” she asked, displaying bruises on her arm that she apparently received when the police “dragged” her into the Sumo “despite my resistance”.

“About 50 police vehicles surrounded me from all sides at the pump. I was dragged into one of them and brought home,” she said.

Angered by the police “high-handedness”, Mamata shooed away the security men posted at her Kalighat house.

“Why are you here'” she asked one of them. “If the police beat up poor farmers and their wives in Singur, I don’t require police personnel for my security.”

Mamata gets Z+ security. Ten armed guards man her residence round the clock.

Seeing the outburst, some of her enthusiastic supporters put up a banner of the save farmland committee on the camp for security personnel.

“We pleaded with her saying it’s our duty to be there, but she didn’t listen,” said special branch officer Amalendu Maity, who oversees the Trinamul MP’s security.

Mamata demanded the Centre’s intervention to stop “police atrocities” in Bengal and said: “I’ll keep home minister Shivraj Patil posted.”

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