History came full circle here on Wednesday. The very place on the National Highway overlooking the abandoned Tata Motors factory site where a decade ago stood the makeshift stage of protest and resistance to forcible land acquisition, turned into a place of triumph and celebration, with hundreds of farmers getting land records and compensation cheques.
While compensation cheques were given to 806 unwilling farmers, land documents of 9,117 farmers have been prepared for both willing and unwilling farmers.
“I had made a promise and have been able to keep it. This is our biggest victory,” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said, addressing a huge gathering.
Emphasising that the land in Singur will be used for agriculture, Ms. Banerjee said every family will be given Rs. 10,000 to make the land cultivable. The monthly stipend to farmers will continue till the land is made suitable for agriculture, she said.
She recounted her days of struggle against forcible land acquisition and said she saluted the spirit of farmers who did not take compensation from the Left Front government.
Ms. Banerjee said that from now on, September 14 will be celebrated as Singur Dibas.
The Chief Minister promised a memorial in Singur and pointed out that had the movement here not taken place similar movements in Nandigram would not have succeeded.
Songs of farmers getting ready for agricultural activities and some paying tributes to those who died in the land struggle, referring to Tapasi Malik and Rajkumar Hul, were played from the 4,000 sq ft stage erected on the National Highway.
When the process of distribution of cheques and land parchas to the farmers started, Ms. Banerjee asked singers like Pratul Mukherjee, Kabir Suman and her aide and MP Dola Sen to keep singing till the process was completed.
For kilometres along the highway both men and women squatted in large numbers.
Among those present at the event was civil rights activist Medha Patkar.
Historic, says Patkar
Hailing the Supreme Court order as ‘historic’ Ms. Patkar said the victory had come after a historic struggle.
She said the land in Singur had got a new lease of life after the order.
While Ms. Banerjee hailed the land struggle she underlined the need for industry.
“Industry and agriculture are like siblings, they are not opposed to each other,” she said.
Urging the Tatas to take the Singur judgment in a sporting spirit, Ms. Banerjee promised to give about 1000 acres for the automobile industry, including the Tatas at Gwaltore in Paschim Medinipur district.
“I am not anti-industry l am opposed to forcible land acquisition,” she said.
Meanwhile, the farmers who got their land back were not sure whether the land can be cultivated again or not.