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Violence after reimposition of prohibitory orders at Singur

Special Correspondent

Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

STANDING TOGETHER: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee (right) and Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata in Kolkata on Monday.

Kolkata: Violence broke out on the outskirts of Singur in West Bengal's Hooghly district on Monday after prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code were reimposed for another 10 days at the site where work on the Tata Motors car project is on.

The orders, withdrawn a week ago, were reinforced in the wake of Sunday's clashes between opponents of the project and the police at Singur.

Ratan Tata, chairman, Tata Group, who paid a brief visit to the city, met Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen. They discussed the project, which, according to Mr. Tata, will come up on schedule, with production beginning in 2008.

"He expressed his sincere commitment to the economic development of the State which would benefit all sections of the people of West Bengal whom he holds close to his heart," said a release issued on behalf of Tata Sons.

A cancer hospital would also be set up at a cost of Rs. 75 crore at Rajarhat near here. This issue was also figured at the meeting.

Monday's trouble started when supporters of the Trinamool Congress-led Krishi Jami Raksha (Save Farmland) Committee, spearheading the campaign against acquisition of farmland for industry, clashed with the police at Kamarkundu while trying to break a cordon and proceed towards Singur.

The protesters, predominantly Trinamool supporters, hurled bricks at the police; forced suspension of local train services for more than three hours by putting cement sleepers on the track; and set afire a lorry and jeep.

The police used teargas shells and wielded lathis to quell the disturbances.

While some policemen were injured in the violence, Trinamool leaders claimed that a number of their supporters were hurt in the lathicharge.

"Undemocratic act"

Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, who was to have gone to Singur to address a rally, deferred her programme following reimposition of the prohibitory orders, which she described as an "undemocratic act of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Government [done] with the support of the Centre."

"It is meant to prevent me from going to Singur," Ms. Banerjee said, adding she would defy the orders and address a public meeting in the area on February 10.

In the afternoon, Ms. Banerjee left for the Chinsurah hospital to visit injured party workers.

She, however, cut short her journey and returned to the city after the police stopped her convoy at Maitipara in view of the prohibitory orders.

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