Mamata kicks off indefinite protest at Singur (Lead)

August 24th, 2008 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 24 (IANS) Opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Sunday kicked off an indefinite protest by thousands near the Tata Motors small car factory site in Singur in West Bengal to demand return of 400 acres of farmland acquired for the project.The Trinamool chief reached Singur at 2 p.m., accompanied by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh, social activist Medha Patkar, former Congress leader Soumen Mitra, Krishi Jami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (Save Farmland Committee) Convenor Purnendu Bose and other political and social activists.

Banerjee appealed to the protesters to abstain from any violence.

“I would like to request all of you to abstain from any violence. This agitation is for the cause of common people,” she said.

Around 200,000 people were expected to join the demonstration organised mainly by the Trinamool Congress, said Becharam Manna, a farm leader. Security forces were deployed to prevent possible violence at Singur, 40 km from here.

The Trinamool-led Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee, which opposes the takeover of farmland for the Tata project, has called for indefinite protests at the Nano factory site from Sunday.

The protesters want the Left Front government to return 400 acres of the total taken from what they say are “unwilling farmers” to build ancillary industries adjacent to the main auto plant.

A total of 997.11 acre was acquired for the project, of which 691.66 acre belong to farmers who have given their land willingly.

“I am going to express my solidarity with the people of Singur. The Tatas should not use their corporate power for wrong purposes,” Patkar said.

The protesters have set up 21 camps around the factory site.

Security arrangements have been tightened in and around Singur, said Inspector General of Police (law and order) Raj Kanojia.

“We have deployed around 3,000 policemen. But they will not do anything unless the situation arises,” said Rajiv Mishra, the Hooghly district police superintendent.

Tata Motors took up the project to build the small car factory in Singur two years back. Since then the firm has faced resistance from sections of the farmers and political parties over the farmland acquisition.

“We want our land back and we will continue to agitate till our demand is met,” said Laxman Das, a farmer in Singur.

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