The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singur back under siege

Singur, Oct. 3: Pullout punch in Calcutta, streets on fire in Singur.

Durgapur Expressway was blocked again tonight, this time by farmers who have given their land for the Nano project and blame Mamata Banerjee for the Tatas’ exit.

Singur — the areas under Singur police station — will observe a 12-hour bandh (6am to 6pm) on Saturday and while CPM leaders campaigned for the shutdown tonight, the party’s Hooghly district committee member, Balai Sabui, said the residents had spontaneously called the strike.

The expressway was littered with logs and burning tyres at Sahanapara, Khasherchak and Joymollah, placed by the farmers shouting slogans against Mamata, whose siege had blocked the highway for 15 days from August 24.

The movement of vehicles that stopped around 9pm, over two hours after Ratan Tata’s pullout announcement, had not resumed till well past midnight.

“We will not allow Mamata to enter Singur again. It is because of her that Singur’s fate was sealed. We will burn her effigy tomorrow,” said Arun Das, 50, who gave up around three-and-a-half acres for the project. Arun’s son, Indrajit, a diploma engineer, had got a job at the project as a supervisor.

The villagers who were part of the syndicates supplying construction material to the small-car project later joined the 500-odd farmers on the expressway.

“Mamata is a wicked woman. She is solely responsible for the Tatas pulling out. She is unfit for mercy,” said Dwijen Das, 51, a member of one such syndicate.

Basudeb Adak, the pradhan of Gopalnagar panchayat, was addressing a public meeting at Sahanapara — which has the largest group of unwilling farmers — on the benefits of the Tata project when news of the pullout came in. Most people left after that. Adak predicted trouble. “It will be difficult to control our youths from going berserk, we don’t know what to do.”

Ashok Pal, from Kanchari More in Beraberi, said this Puja would be like no other. “The celebrations will be muted since the enthusiasm has been sapped completely.”

For Tapas Maity, in his early 40s, the future is uncertain.

The resident of Harharia village had given nearly two acres for around Rs 13 lakh, a sum he kept as a fixed deposit in a bank. Last July, he joined a company engaged in cleaning jobs at the Tata factory as a supervisor, earning around Rs 4,500 every month. His father, mother, brother, wife and two daughters depend on his income. The job is no more as the firm has been wound up.

“I used to plough the land with my father. I have no other skills. I am afraid to touch the money since it is all we have. I have no answers for the dozen youths working under me since I don’t know what will happen.”

Arun Koley, in his 40s, of Dewanbheri village had received Rs 1 lakh for seven cottahs (60 cottahs make an acre). His son Kaushik passed Madhyamik last year from Gopalnagar High School and had been sent for training by the Tatas.

Months back, he was offered a job in one of the paint shops. He was waiting for pre-recruitment medical tests and other formalities when Mamata started her agitation. The siege meant he couldn’t complete the process.

“Kaushik was upbeat at the job offer. I don’t know whether to ask him to return to farming or look for a job,” Arun said.

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