| Mamata Banerjee with a woman who fears loss of land in Nandigram. Picture by Amit Datta
Singur, Feb. 4: As police tried to prevent a Save Farmland Committee procession from reaching the Tata Motors plot, hundreds of others rushed in from different directions and uprooted fence posts there, triggering a hail of bombs, stones and teargas shells.
Over 500 supporters of the Trinamul Congress-backed committee began a march towards the project site from Ujwal Sangha in Bajemelia around 11 am. The police blocked their way about 100 metres from the fence.
Supporters of social activist Anuradha Talwar and the SUCI, however, made it to the car plant site from Beraberi, a kilometre away, and started uprooting the posts.
Over 20 had been pulled out when Naxalites led by Amitava Bhattacharya arrived from Khasherbheri.
The police, caught unawares by the surge, wielded the baton, and crude bombs and stones led their resistance.
A haystack went up in flames as a teargas shell landed on it, adding to the drama in the battle that left at least 20, including policemen, injured.
Talwar, whose contingent comprised more outsiders than local people, was dragged away to the Chinsurah police station. Save Farmland leader Becharam Manna and Naxalite Bhattacharya, who were hit by batons, were taken to the Chinsurah Sadar Hospital.
Talwar alleged that the police beat her up when she was peacefully demonstrating against the car project. “People have every right to protest if their land is forcibly acquired for industry. But the police pounced on me.”
Hooghly superintendent Supratim Sarkar said the police were left with no option but to fire rubber bullets and lob teargas shells. “We repeatedly appealed to them to disperse, but they hurled stones and bombs instead.”
Mamata Banerjee, who returned to the acquisition centrestage in Nandigram today, brought forward her Singur trip. She would be here tomorrow instead of Saturday.
Party MLA Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay was rushed to Singur from Nandigram. “The police action on our members was unprovoked. There would have been no trouble if the police had not unleashed its atrocities on us,” he alleged.
The Congress’s Subrata Mukherjee was also in Singur, though his party has distanced itself from protests against the Tata Motors project, about 40 km from Calcutta.
Until last Sunday, prohibitory orders were in force in Singur.
The restriction had been clamped after a mob tried to prevent the construction of the fence around the plot. Since the fence was erected, stray mobs have been bursting bombs and trying to uproot posts.
The government is keeping watch on the developments, chief secretary A.K. Deb said tonight. However, it has “not yet decided” on reimposing section 144.
Political row: Tata
Ratan Tata has told a television channel that the unrest in Singur was politically created, reports PTI.
“I think Singur is unfortunate… because it really is not our battle. We are caught in the middle of some crossfire that is political,” he said.