The violence regarding the land acquisition in west Bengal is nothing new. On Tuesday, the State again witnessed another volatile situation. In the South 24 Parganas district, Bhangar, thousands of villagers came out with lathis and bricks. The people blocked the roads with tree trunks to thwart the police enter the area. When the police tried to enter the area to control the situation the villagers attacked them, pelted stones at them and many of them were injured. The police vans were set on fire and other vehicles were vandalised.
This situation at Bhangar is remembering a quite familiar scenario – the 2007 Nandigram and in 2008 Lalgarh land agitations which was occurred in the several villages of West Midnapore.
The agitation started because of a power grid project in the area. The Power Grid Corporation of India constructed the power grid project and the state government is facilitating the project. Some villagers were against the project. They feel that this could be harmful to fishing and farming in the area.
The violent agitation took two people’s lives and many were wounded during protests. The clashes between villagers and police emerged for land acquisition against a power sub-station. The protesters want assurance from the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee that the land will not take from them forcibly.
Some villagers claimed police opened fire at them and entered into their homes and tortured them. Some claimed criminals supported by local TMC leader were behind the violence. Though the police denied shooting at the protesters. Additional Director General of Police Anuj Sharma told, “Outsiders with arms entered the place and created problems. Injuries were due to crossfire between outsiders.”
The police sources said they suspected the involvement of Maoists as well as ultra-Left students from universities and colleges in Kolkata. Some claimed they have seen the students of Jadavpur University and the members of CPI-ML Red Star.
CPI-ML leader Pradip Singha told NDTV, “Yes we don’t live here but we have the right to help locals in their fight for what is right. Bhangar is not just a mini-Singur or Nandigram. It is a maxi-Singur-Nandigram.”
The villagers alleged 16 acres of farmland was forcibly acquired from them for the project. The corporation told them a power plant would come up but they saw a power grid with high-tension wires.
Scientists informed the locals that the grid would damage their farm land, destroy the environment and affect the health of people.
The local MLA from Bhangar, Abdur Rezzak Mollah blamed the CPI(M), Congress and some human rights organisations were behind the violence.
Mamata Banerjee sent him to visit the area and calm the people but the villagers didn’t allow him to enter the area.
Yesterday evening, Trinamool Congress issued a statement which quoted Mamata Banerjee that there would be no forcible acquisition of land at Bhangar and the power grid would be shifted if required. But within an hour the statement was withdrawn.
The 2007 Nandigram violence was very important in Mamata Banerjee’s political career as the TMC widely mentioned this issue in their election campaigns.
Earlier, Mamata Banerjee herself played an important part of these land acquisition movements as an opposition leader against the CPI(M) government. Now her government is facing the same land acquisition problem. It is to be seen in this volatile situation how she will manage the circumstance as a ruling leader.