Farmers block trains, Mamta broadside against Left on Singur (Lead)

August 3rd, 2008 - 12:17 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 2 (IANS) Several trains were halted in West Bengal Saturday as Trinamool Congress-led farmers blocked railway tracks demanding the state government return the land acquired in Singur for the Nano small car project even as party chief Mamta Banerjee said the the people would “punish the Left Front for its mistakes”. Police said a group of slogan-shouting protesters owing allegiance to the Trinamool-backed Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee - SKJRC (Singur Anti-farmland Acquisition Committee) squatted on the tracks at the Dhaniakhali station on Eastern Railway’s Howrah-Burdwan section for the major part of the day, disrupting train movements.

The Howrah-bound Rajdhani Express had to be detained at the Gudap station for 40 minutes, police said.

The Benaras-Howrah Bibhuti Express was also among the trains detained due to the agitation, which was also organised against the decrease in the support price of potatoes.

Later Banerjee lashed out at the state’s Left Front government for saying that land taken from the farmers cannot be returned.

“They have taken the land unethically and forcibly. Why can’t they return the land to the farmers who were unwilling to part with their only means of livelihood?” Banerjee told reporters here.

Banerjee said the people would punish the state government if it did not return the 400 acres taken from unwilling farmers.

Banerjee said the state government had never come clean on the pact with the Tatas for the Singur project.

“They let loose a reign of terror in Nandigram and Singur. Let them come out with what happened in Singur and Nandigram”.

“It is the beginning of the end for the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led front. They have been in power for 31 years. Now the people, even those owing allegiance to the Left, do not believe in the governmment.”

Following the resentment among a substantial section of farmers from whom the state government acquired land for the project, the SKJRC, along with civil society members, has spearheaded a violent agitation for the past two years against the establishment of the plant.

The government acquired 997.11 acres, triggering protests across the three panchayats - Gopalnagar, KGD (Kamarkundu, Gopalnagar, Doluigachcha) and Beraberi - that comprise the project area.

The Singur plant will prouce the Nano, universally hailed as a feat of automobile engineering and which is the world’s cheapest car at Rs.100,000 ($2,500).

In Nandigram, the state government’s efforts to set up a chemical hub did not materialise after violent protests by the peasants led by the Trinamool.

Meanwhile, SKJRC convenor Becharam Manna claimed that more than 500 workers engaged in the construction of the small car factory had left their jobs.

However, a Tata Motors spokesman said: “Not a single employee of our company has quit. As for the contractors’ employees, they are casual labourers who come and go.”

The spokesman said the project was on schedule. “Our programme is to complete the factory in time for starting production in the October-December quarter. We are working towards that,” he told IANS over the telephone.

In a bid to jump onto the Singur bandwagon, the West Bengal unit of the Congress announced Saturday it would block the Durgapur Expressway at Khaserbheri village near the project site Sunday.

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