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After Singur verdict, Rajarhat farmers want their land back

A file photo of an area under Rajarhat New Town the outskirts of Kolkata.

A file photo of an area under Rajarhat New Town the outskirts of Kolkata.  

In the wake of returning of land to farmers in Singur, farmers in Rajarhat in North 24 Paraganas whose land was acquired for development of Rajarhat Township have demanded that it should also be given back. Alleging that the land was acquired by force, the farmers said they would be organising a gherao of the office of the West Bengal Housing Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO), which currently owns the land, on Monday.

Mohammad Abdullah, a agitation organisers, alleged that though the land was acquired in 2002 in the name of setting up the township, most of it has been lying unused. “A large portion of the land was acquired without the farmers’ consent. If the land acquired from farmers in Singur can be returned, we also want our land back,” he told The Hindu.

According to the HIDCO, till December 2012, about 6,839 acres of land has been acquired for the township project. HIDCO chairman Debashish Sen, however, refused to comment on the matter.

The affected farmers asserted that either the State Government return their original land or give them five kottah of land inside the township area. In individual letters addressed to the HIDCO authorities, the farmers stated: “During the Left Front era, the land in the Rajarhat New Town area was acquired by force and it is currently owned by the HIDCO. The fact that the [Supreme Court’s] verdict has gone in favour of the farmers in Singur proves that the land acquisition in Rajarhat New Town was also illegal.”

One of the farmers, Mohammad Headait Hussain, told The Hindu that after his close to 2 acres of land was acquired by the Left Front government, he was left with no other means to earn his livelihood. “I know only farming, and, the small business I tried to run also shut down recently. If my land is not returned, I will not be able to fend for my eleven-member family,” he said.

Last month, the Supreme Court quashed the acquisition of 997 acres of land in Singur by the erstwhile Left Front government for the Tata Motor’s car factory, ordering that the land be returned to the farmers. Following the verdict, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee distributed deeds of lands to hundreds of affected farmers in Singur on September 14.

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