Fencing crosses half line

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By FROM KINSUK BASU AND UTTAM DUTTA
  • Published 3.12.06
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(Top) A woman who was caught in the clash in Singur on Saturday. (Above) Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee addressing the rally on Sunday with the Tata logo on the group’s city headquarters looming in the background. Pictures by Amit Datta and PTI

Singur, Dec. 3: A day after the clashes, the administration resumed work to fence off the land acquired here, wrapped under a security blanket.

“The fencing work was carried out across Khasherbheri, Beraberi and Manashatala without any resistance from the villagers. It went fine,” said Binod Kumar, the Hooghly district magistrate.

Armed with a handycam, Kumar went about capturing the work from one end to another and flashed a smile of success as evening descended.

“If things progress in this manner, the work of fencing the entire plot for the Tata small-car factory should be over in the next two days,” he said.

According to estimates, around 1.5 km was fenced off today, taking the total stretch covered to almost 5.5 km. About 10 km needs to be fenced to cover the entire perimeter.

In terms of acres, district officials said about 45 per cent of the 997.11-acre plot had been fenced by this evening.

From early morning, hundreds of labourers — many of them sporting white caps to keep off the sun —went about setting up sal posts for the iron mesh fence.

The poles and rolls of the mesh were ferried from one end to another in small trucks.

“We were prepared for any eventuality today and the force was lined up accordingly. But thankfully, there was no show of protest from any corner,” said N.R. Babu, the Midnapore range deputy inspector-general of police.

Far from Khasherbheri — where senior officers, including western range inspector-general Arun Kumar Gupta, camped along with the district officials — in the heart of the villages, some residents bristled at the sight of policemen.

Many residents, like Sabita Das of Bajemelia, have left the place in fear of the police.

A police team barged into Sabita’s hut yesterday and allegedly beat her up for protesting against the fencing work. The 42-year-old mother of three opted for the safe confines of her brother’s place in Sheoraphuli today.

A few hundred women and children from Khasherbheri, Beraberi, Bajemelia and Gopalnagar have fled homes fearing a rerun of the “atrocity”.

“It brought back memories of the turbulent 70s. Policemen barged into houses and picked up villagers,” said Shyamal Pakhira of Gopalnagar.

Activist Medha Patkar led a procession in Chandernagore, 25 km away, and later squatted in front of the police station there protesting against police brutalities. She left, promising to return tomorrow.

The chief minister ruled out talks with her “as she did not bother to talk to us”.

The 48 people arrested yesterday were remanded in a week’s judicial custody by the Chandernagore court.

Trains in the Sealdah and Howrah divisions were stuck for some time this morning because of blockades put by Trinamul supporters.