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August 24: Singur siege date - Plan to surround Tata Motors site and keep away 'outsiders'

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By Mamata at the news conference. Picture by Sanat Kumar Sinha Our bureau
  • Published 4.08.08

Calcutta/Singur, Aug. 3: Mamata Banerjee today announced an indefinite dharna — a virtual siege — around the Tata Motors plant in Singur from August 24 till the government returned 400 acres “forcibly” acquired from farmers.

“Temporary camps will be set up on a 4km stretch surrounding the automobile plant where members of the Save Farmland Committee will sit on indefinite dharna from August 24 afternoon,” said the Trinamul Congress chief, who herself will be present at the dharna.

“If any attempt is made to prevent our peaceful agitation, there will be statewide protests and the government will have to face the consequences,” she told a news conference this afternoon.

Representatives of over 20 outfits, including the Naxalite faction CPI (M-L) Janashakti, attended the conference that lasted for over an hour.

“We shall begin the dharna at 2pm on August 24 and carry on peacefully until our demands are met,” she said.

Pradip Banerjee, the convener of the Save Farmland Committee, said the demonstrators would not prevent anybody from entering the small-car plant. “But outsiders will find it difficult to enter as our camps will encircle the project site. We shall not, however, resort to violence,” he said.

Over 4,000 labourers reside inside the Tata Motors project area in Singur, but about 500 engineers visit the site everyday for work and leave in the evening.

Dubbed “outsiders”, if they are prevented from entering the site, there could be trouble as police will find it difficult not to intervene and clear the way for the engineers. However, it is not clear if the company proposes to bed down the engineers till the situation improves.

Mamata had earlier decided to launch her dharna on August 20, but deferred it because Left trade unions had called an all-India strike the same day.

Her party was not opposed to industrialisation, Mamata said, but it was “against the CPM’s move to acquire land for industry at the cost of poor farmers”.

Somen Mitra, the former Bengal Congress president who has now floated the Pragatishil Indira Congress, will join the protest. Mamata said she was “happy that Somenda will be with us at our dharna in Singur”.

The Samajwadi Party also sent its representative — its Bengal unit chief Vijay Upadhyay — to the meeting.

Upadhyay said Samajwadi general secretary Amar Singh would also go to Singur for a day to take part in the dharna.

In Singur, nearly 5,000 committee members today took out a procession about 5km from the project site.

The procession started from Singur station and went round the neighbourhood before ending at the station.

A team of about 200 policemen escorted the procession.

Local Trinamul Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharjee, who led the procession, said: “Many workers have left the small-car project site. We will drive away the rest. We will not give up our agitation.”