The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mamata goes the Naxalite hit-and-run way
- Militant agitation follows meeting
The Jamait Ulema-i-Hind, which spearheaded the Nandigram agitation, landed on the outskirts of Singur on Wednesday. Not to be left behind, Mamata Banerjee’s men dug up an insignificant village road. The split, only a couple of feet wide, provided the boys some long jump practice. Pictures by Bishwarup Dutta

Calcutta, Feb. 7: From digging roads and burning police vehicles to killing an officer, Mamata Banerjee’s movement against land acquisition seems to be following the familiar Naxalite route. Her endorsement of the strategy begs the question whether she has submitted to the ways of militancy to bring the government to its heels.

With the government deciding to ignore her demand to stop work at Singur, Mamata seems to be convinced that “peaceful means” would not work. That the escalation of violence is not a mere coincidence is borne out by the fact that the adoption of militant methods of protest had been discussed at a January 29 meeting of the Save Farmland Committee in Mamata’s house.

The meeting decided that a “militant agitation” was the way to counter the government’s might and regular protests will be held in Singur to “keep the issue alive’’.

At the meeting, the Trinamul Congress chief saw reason in the argument of some Naxalite leaders — that “announced and unannounced” protests will have to be staged to force the government to stop work on the Tata project.

“We had requested chief minister Buddhadeb Bhatta- charjee to hold discussions with us but he didn’t. So, we have decided to resort to all forms of protest. Uprooting poles and setting them on fire is just the beginning of a long agitation,’’ Naxalite leader Amitava Bhattacharya said.

Trinamul insiders admitted that Mamata is increasingly finding appeal in “disruptive and violent’’ forms of resistance.

“If the land of the poor is taken away at random, will they sit back and relax' They have done the right thing by digging up roads,’’ the Trinamul chief told a rally in Nandigram on Sunday.

At a meeting in Esplanade today, a Save Farmland Committee leader congratulated Singur villagers for digging up a road, in Mamata’s presence.

CPM state committee member Rabin Deb said: “It’s clear that the Trinamul chief wants to bring back the Naxalite days in Bengal. It appears the Trinamul movement has been hijacked by the extreme-Left that believe in violence only.’’

Naxalite leader Asim Chatterjee said the government has forced Mamata to go for a confrontation and that militancy might turn out to be an effective weapon of protest. “Attacks on police may be part of a Naxalite tactic, but Mamata didn’t ask people to go to that extent.’’

Mamata has told the Save Farmland leaders that all efforts should be made to prevent the administration from going ahead with its work in Singur.

At Esplanade, Mamata said she wanted a united show of strength and was willing to take the backseat if “like-minded parties” joined the Save Farmland Committee.

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