| Policemen lathicharge the Maoist rally in Singur on on Friday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Singur, Dec. 8: A group of people yesterday tried to set on fire a portion of the fence built to mark the land acquired for Tata Motors in Singur.
The protesters doused the fence, at Purbapara in Beraberi, with kerosene before torching it. But villagers rushed to the field and put out the flames. Only some wooden poles were charred.
District superintendent of police Supratim Sarkar said the attackers were “mere miscreants”. “A portion of the fencing was set on fire, but thanks to the efforts of a few villagers, it did not cause any serious damage. The miscreants could not be identified as they escaped under the cover of darkness,” he said.
Swarup Bagri, a local CPM worker who has handed over a portion of his land for the Tata small car factory, was one of the men who helped douse the flames.
He claimed that the culprits belonged to the Trinamul Congress-backed Krishi Jami Bachao Committee.
“Around 7.30 pm, I saw from my house that half-a-dozen fencing posts were on fire. I could see the outlines of some men with torches but could not identify any of them. By the time I managed to get hold of a few local people and reached the spot, the miscreants had escaped,” Bagri said.
Bagri is among the CPM workers appointed to help police guard the fencing at night. “For every 1 km of fencing, about 30 workers are deployed from around 8.30 pm. The miscreants must have been local residents as they ventured out in the dark just before we were to step out,” he said.
Security in and around the area, where the fencing work is drawing to a close, has been beefed up after yesterday’s strike.
The police today checked every vehicle passing through Singur.
An officer said the area was on edge all day. A funeral procession, too, was intercepted at Ratanpur More and the police verified if the person was actually dead, he added.
But the tension peaked around noon, when the police stopped a CPI (ML) Liberation procession led by Dipankar Bhattacharya at Baidyabati Chowmatha More. They soon began putting their batons to work.
The charge, led by the sub divisional police officer (SDPO) of Serampore, Rabindranath Sarkar, was mostly focused on reporters and photographers, four of whom were injured. They were admitted to Serampore Walsh Hospital.
The district superintendent of police announced departmental proceedings against the guilty police officers. “I will have a word with the SDPO and ask for an explanation. I have seen the video footage of the incident and I regret the fact that a section of the force lathicharged mediapersons without any provocation. Necessary action would be taken against those guilty,” Sarkar said.
In Calcutta, commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said this evening that Mamata’s hunger strike would not affect the Tatas’ plans.
“They are constantly in touch with us. They may come down anytime,” he said.
“But I also understand that no industry will be comfortable to step in amid such protests and demonstrations,” the official added