The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Back: Mamata & bedlam

Calcutta, Feb. 4: A rested and rejuvenated Mamata Banerjee today picked up from where she left off after the fast, declaring a land war, adopting destruction of roads as a means of protest and scheduling a trip to Singur where clashes broke out in tandem with her comeback.

Another flashpoint flank was also opened in a CPM stronghold near Nandigram when suspected Trinamul Congress activists set on fire several houses of their political opponents and dug up roads.

Khejuri, the village where arsonists struck this morning, was used as the staging post by the CPM during last month’s retaliatory strike on land protesters in Nandigram that killed at least seven people.

Law enforcement agencies are now bracing for a CPM retaliation in Khejuri, 20 km from the venue of Mamata’s meeting today.

CPM leaders alleged that the turnout at Mamata’s rally in Nandigram emboldened Trinamul to mount the attack on the Left bastion.

The fear of fresh violence came as batches of people protesting land acquisition in Singur threw crude bombs and uprooted some poles erected for fencing, forcing police to fire rubber bullets and teargas shells.

Mamata, who held her first public meeting in Nandigram after the land clashes in a bid to checkmate the Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, has said she would go to Singur tomorrow.

“Till the last drop of my blood and till I am alive, I will not allow the government to forcibly acquire farmland to set up industry or SEZs (special economic zones,” she told the rally in Nandigram.

“I salute the people of Nandigram for putting up a stiff resistance to the government’s move to acquire land,” she added, lauding farmers for digging up roads and setting up blockades to keep the police at bay.

In Krishnagar, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said there will be “no industry in Nandigram if the people don’t want it”. “Who will go ahead with industrialistion in Nandigram without the people’s consent'” he asked.

A CPM leader in Calcutta clarified that the chief minister meant the people would be taken into confidence before industrialisation and the government would not repeat the mistake in Nandigram of proceeding without consulting them.

The immediate worry for the police is the possible repeat of last month’s flare-up in Khejuri, where houses of seven CPM activists were torched.

CPM workers have assembled at several places in Khejuri, armed with rods, swords and spears.

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