West Bengal Violence: 1 Dead In Bhangar Unrest, Protesters Ask Mamata Banerjee To Act

A protest in West Bengal's Bhangar is being compared to the Singur agitation; 1 dead in violence

Kolkata: In a protest in West Bengal that is being compared to the massive Singur agitation a few years ago, hundreds of angry locals have this morning blocked major roads in Bhangar, 40 km from the state capital Kolkata, demanding an assurance from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that their land will not be forcibly acquired by the government for a power sub-station. One person was killed on Tuesday as protesters clashed with the policemen and set fire to six police vehicles.

Here's 10-point cheat sheet to the story:

  1. The protesters have blocked access to the project site of the Power Grid Corporation of India and say they want Mamata Banerjee to visit. They claim that 16 acres of farm land has been forcibly taken for the project, which they were told was a power plant, but now a power grid is being built instead with high tension wires.

  2. The villagers say scientists have told them that the grid will ruin farm land in the area, affect the health of people and destroy the environment. They say they are Trinamool Congress supporters, but want the power substation removed.

  3. On Tuesday, Ms Banerjee's Trinamool Congress issued a statement quoting her as saying that there would be no forcible acquisition of land and that the power grid would be shifted if required. Within an hour, however, the Trinamool statement was withdrawn.

  4. The protesters allege that a man was shot dead yesterday when the police opened fire while trying to flee the area, outnumbered by thousands of angry villagers.

  5. The police have denied opening fire. "Outsiders with arms entered the place and created problems. Injuries were due to cross fire between outsiders," said Additional Director General of Police Anuj Sharma.

  6. Senior officials said several policemen were injured as the villagers attacked them. Vehicles were vandalised and burned and bombs were thrown at cops caught between two sets of protesters who had blocked a major road, they said.

  7. Police sources said they suspect the involvement of Maoists and ultra-Left students from universities and colleges in Kolkata. Some students of Jadavpur University were allegedly seen at the protests site; some members of the CPI-ML Red Star, were spotted too.

  8. "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," CPI-ML Red Star leader Pradip Singha told NDTV.

  9. As opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee had led massive farmer protests against the acquisition of land by the then Left Front government for the Nano car project of the Tatas.

  10. Tata motors moved their operations out of Bengal in 2008 amid the agitation. Last  year, the Supreme Court ordered that the 1000 acres of farm land acquired for the Nano factory be returned to farmers.