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Mamata threatens to launch indefinite fast

Monday 4 December 2006

Special Correspondent

SUCI calls for bandh on December 5 Medha Patkar to stay on in State

Kolkata: Even as social activist Medha Patkar appealed to the West Bengal Government to withdraw the police from Singur in Hooghly district, where Tata Motors is to set up a car-manufacturing plant, Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike from Monday unless police stop within a day alleged atrocities on those opposing the project.

Both Ms. Patkar and Ms. Banerjee are opposing the alleged forcible acquisition of land for the automobile project.

Police have been deployed at the site for the proposed factory to ensure that there is no breach in law and order as fencing work on the plot of land entered its third day on Sunday. Prohibitory orders are in force in the area.

The Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) has called a 24-hour State-wide bandh on December 5 in protest against police action on those opposing the project. This will be the second bandh called on the same issue in five days - the other having been called by the Trinamool Congress on December 1.

The Trinamool Congress will consider its support to the SUCI’s bandh call, Ms. Banerjee said. She reiterated that her party will not allow the acquisition of farmland for the project. Rajnath Singh, president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, is scheduled to visit Singur on Monday.

Roads were blocked and train services disrupted in certain parts of the State by Trinamool Congress activists for the third successive day on Sunday.

Ms. Patkar, who was prevented from entering the area and was whisked away in a police van back to the city on Saturday evening, refused accommodation for the night offered to her at a guest house. She set out for Chandanagore in Hooghly district on Sunday morning where she staged a brief dharna outside the police station demanding release of those detained there for protesting against the alleged forcible acquisition of land.

"Some of the women who were arrested told me over the phone that they had been charged under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code [attempt to murder] at a time when they were at home cooking," she said. "How can they be charged under Section 307 if this were so?" she asked.

Ms. Patkar has cancelled all her engagements and would stay on in the State till the Singur issue was resolved.

Earlier in the day, Ms. Banerjee was stopped by police at Dankuni on her way to Singur where she had directed all her legislators to go following the disturbances there on Saturday. She was escorted in a convoy by policepersons back to her residence in the city.

Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Union Minister of Information and Broadcasting, condemned Saturday’s police action and demanded that the State convene an all-party meet to discuss the Singur project. He also called upon the State to make public its rehabilitation package for those whose land is being acquired for the purpose.

See online : The Hindu

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