Trinamool leaders attacked, Mamata demands Buddha's sack
Kolkata, Nov 2 (IANS) About a month after it lost the Nano car project, Singur in West Bengal was on the boil Sunday as Trinamool Congress and Nano Bachao Committee (Save Nano Committee) members fought a pitched battle in the rural belt, leaving three policemen and several people injured.
Policemen lobbed teargas shells after baton charge failed to contain the violence, which started when hundreds of Nano Bachao Committee workers - mainly activists and sympathisers of West Bengal's ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) - went on rampage on the Durgapur Expressway in Singur, 40 km from here.
They damaged vehicles carrying Trinamool leaders and supporters, including party heavyweight Patha Chattopadhyay, to party chief Mamata Banerjee's rally near the abandoned Tata Motors small car project site at Singur.
The Nano Bachao activists also stopped the vehicle of other senior party leaders, including Mukul Roy and Madan Mitra, near Ratanpur area on way to the rally called to demand return of 400 acres 'forcibly acquired' by the government from farmers unwilling to part with their land for the Nano project.
In the backlash, Trinamool supporters ransacked a few shops and beat up rival CPI-M supporters, turning parts of Singur into a battlefield.
'A few Save Nano Committee activists damaged Chattopadhyay's vehicle. Later police intervened and rescued him,' Hooghly district police superintendent Rajiv Mishra told IANS, while confirming the use of teargas to disperse the violent party workers.
Asked about the number of people injured, Inspector General of Police Raj Kanojia said: 'I cannot give you the exact figure of injuries among the political activists. But three policemen were injured. Four persons have been arrested. Cases are being started.'
Rajya Sabha MP Roy said: 'Our vehicles were attacked by the CPI-M-backed hooligans who were agitating under the banner of the Nano Bachao Committee. We declared our programme to hold a public meeting at Singur last week and got all required permissions from the district administration.'
He said the CPI-M-backed 'anti-social elements' pelted stones at Chattopadhyay's car and damaged the vehicle.
According to police officers, the pro-Nano activists blocked the Durgapur Expressway at several points, holding placards that read 'Go Back Mamata Banerjee'. They also waved black flags.
Condemning the attack on her party leaders and activists, Banerjee demanded Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee's resignation and imposition of Article 356 in the state.
'The state government has no moral right to continue in office. The chief minister should resign. Or else, he should be dismissed for stifling the voice of the main opposition political party and Article 356 imposed in the state,' Banerjee told mediapersons in Kolkata, before she went to Singur and addressed a rally.
She said the state government had filed first information reports (FIRs) against her party workers in early September for laying siege to the Nano plant site.
'But today their cadres are mercilessly beating up our workers and preventing them to attending my meeting. If they don't allow us to hold our political meeting, what's the difference between CPI-M and Maharashtra Navanirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray?' she asked.
Banerjee said: 'If me and my party activists are hurt in the incident, the CPI-M, state Home Secretary Ashok Mohon Chakraborty and the entire administration would be held responsible.
'I cannot sit at home when my workers are being beaten up there at the ground zero,' she said, claiming nearly 1,000 Trinamool supporters including MPs and MLAs were injured but the party will not be cowed down by the violence.
Earlier, Banerjee had announced that her party would hold public meeting at Singur Sunday to press demand for return to farmers their 400 acres acquired for the car project.
The Trinamool will Monday undertake a march from the Gandhi statue in the hub of the city to Shyambazar in the north in protest against the assault.
Meanwhile, state CPI-M secretary Biman Bose came down heavily on the Trinamool. 'Those who are opposing the industrialisation drive in West Bengal are anti-development. They are the enemy of the people of the state,' he said.
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