‘Kawakhali could be another Nandigram’
Express News Service
Kolkata, March 25: Kawakhali and its adjacent mouzas near Siliguri may well turn out to be another Nandigram if the state government does not backtrack on its plan to acquire land from the villagers for the establishment of a residential township. A threat to this effect was issued by the Bhoomi Raksha Committee last Friday.
Last Friday, led by veteran Naxalite leader Kanu Sanyal, about 500 villagers, most of whom are owners of small plots at the Kawakhali, Purajhar and Tikulikatha mouzas, raised slogans against state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
“We do not want any compensation. We are going to save our lands at any cost. If the government still tries to acquire our land, it will face strong opposition and the bloody scenes of Nandigram will be repeated at Kawakhali, Purajhar and Tikulikatha,” said a villager from Kawakhali, who is also the member of the Bhoomi Raksha Committee, on condition of anonymity.
After submitting a memorandum to Neelam Meena, the chief executive officer of the SJDA on Friday, Sanyal said, “We want Asok Bhattacharya to meet the Bhoomi Raksha committee members within seven days to discuss the issue. If the minister fails to do so, anything might happen at Kawakhali and its adjacent mouzas, and for that we will not be responsible.” A couple of months back Sanyal had threatened that if the government did not stop acquiring land for industrialisation, there will be a massive movement on the lines of the Naxalbari movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s.
Political observers are of the opinion that under the banner of Bhoomi Raksha Committee concerned villagers throughout the state are preparing for such a movement. Asok Bhattacharya, however, said that land acquisition at Kawakhali will never be a problem and no force could stop the SJDA from establishing the proposed township. He did not clarify whether he would sit down with the members of the committee within a week.
Today, the CPI(M) organised a mass rally of about 10,000 people who were forced to attend the rally in Siliguri to garner support for industrialisation, which was addressed by Bhattaceharya. He said that district magistrate Rajesh Pandey would hold an all-party meeting to settle all the problems regarding the project soon.
The SJDA had decided to acquire 302 acres of land at Kawakhali, Purajhar and Tikulikatha villages near the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital at an estimated cost of Rs 2,500 crore, some six km from Siliguri, for the establishment of a satellite township by Bengal Universal Unitech.