Violence re-erupts in Bengal over Salim land acquisition
Kolkata/Nandigram, Jan 3 - In what can be called a sequel to the Singur
movement, violence erupted again Wednesday over land acquisition for a project for Indonesia's Salim Group when police fired several rounds to quell frenzied villagers at Nandigram in West Bengal.
Villagers, who blocked roads with boulders and destroyed a bridge to prevent police access to their areas, said at least four of their people, including a 12-year-old boy, sustained bullet injuries in the unprovoked firing even as police said it was mob attack on the cops angry over the publication of gazette on notification for the acquisition.
'At least five policemen were injured in the mob attack. We have no report of any injury of the villagers,' Inspector General of Police - Raj Kanojia told IANS in Kolkata.
'It was a mob attack on the policemen,' Kanojia said. The injured policemen included two assistant sub-inspectors.
'They have fired at least 15 rounds and injured four villagers. The injured included a 12-year-old,' said Sheikh Khusbani, a teacher from Nandigram in East Midnapore district while another villager claimed that the police attacked processionists protesting against the notification peacefully.
'We will give blood and our life but not our land. We don't want industry. They are trying to grab our home and hearth,' said Samsur, a villager from Nandigram, summing up the explosive situation in Nandigram.
Footage shown by news channel Kolkata TV showed villagers digging roads to prevent police access to the area.
The agitation of the villagers was led by an organisation called Gana Unnayan O Jana Adhikar Raksha Samity -, which is a constituent of the Singur Krishijami Raksha Committee -.
'This will continue so long the government continues to keep people in the dark and not maintain transparency. The Nandigram incident is a continuation of the Singur movement only,' said social activist Anuradha Talwar.
Talwar, an associate of Medha Patkar in West Bengal, said so long the government continued to bulldoze the people such things would happen.
The Congress and Socialist Unity Centre of India - have called a shutdown in the area to protest the police action.
Reports pouring in from the East Midnapore district said the angry mob also set on fire a police jeep in retaliation at Sonachura as violence escalated over the acquisition of land at Nandigram, about 150 km from here near the Haldia port town, for a chemical hub to be set up by Salim in collaboration with the government.
Reports said several people were injured in the firing even as people in large number were gathering in the area triggering fears of more violence. Heavy deployment of policemen was being made to deal with the situation as violence was spreading to other villages.
Hardly had the dust settled over the Singur land acquisition in Hooghly district, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had a fresh troubled spot to cope with as tension gripped the area over land acquisition.
In East Midnapore the state government reportedly eyed over 22,000 acres of land for industrial projects.
Recently social activist Medha Patkar visited the area to support the villagers resisting the acquisition.
On July 31, the West Bengal government signed an agreement with the Salim Group of Indonesia to implement various developmental projects, including the setting up of a mega chemical industrial estate, including a chemical special economic zone - at Nandigram, spread across 10,000 acres in a 50:50 joint venture.
Construction of a four-lane road bridge over the Haldi River, from Haldia to Nandigram, has also been planned. The proposed bridge would provide a link between Haldia and the proposed chemicals SEZ in Nandigram.