Reiterates demand for return of ‘forcibly' acquired land

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday reiterated her stand against alleged forcible acquisition of land from farmers for the now-abandoned Tata Motors small car project.

She urged the West Bengal government to grant 600 acres to the railway authorities for setting up industry after returning 400 acres to those from whom land had allegedly been acquired “forcibly.”

Addressing a public meeting after participating in a procession on the National Highway 2 in front of the erstwhile Tata Motors project site, it appeared that Ms. Banerjee virtually kicked off her election campaign from the very site where her party started the movement against the government's alleged forcible acquisition of land from farmers for industrialisation.

Ms. Banerjee said that rather than seeking “revenge” for all the “wrongdoings of the Communist Party of India (Marxist),” she wanted to usher in a “change that is peaceful.”

“Elections have to be held by the month of April…Singur is the motherland of our land movement. I can promise that while both agriculture and industry will flourish here, unwilling farmers will be returned 400 acres. After the CPI(M)'s departure from the State, we will start our developmental work from Singur,” she said amidst thunderous applause from the audience.

Claiming that her party had never objected to the setting up of industry on 600 acres, Ms. Banerjee said that her Ministry would set up a DMU coach factory on the land if the State government offered it.

“Our party never objected to any land acquisition or industrialisation drive by the State government until when we saw that farmers are being threatened into giving up their land. The same method was applied in Rajarhat (in North 24 Parganas) where around 25,000 acres have been forcibly acquired,” she asserted.

Ms. Banerjee added: “I did not have to kill or intimidate people yet so many railway projects are underway in the State. But the CPI(M)-led Left Front government is trying to derail the projects by raising illogical and flimsy issues.”

Referring to the firing at Netai village near Lalgarh in Paschim Medinipur district on January 7 that killed seven villagers and injured 18 others, she reiterated the CPI(M) ‘harmads' role in it and compared the incident with that of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

“Arms and ammunition found inside the ‘harmad' camp after the incident are generally used by the military. They are used during wars and not to maintain democracy. The villagers were indiscriminately fired at on the chest, abdomen and back,” Ms. Banerjee said.