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Why Farmers Movement in Bengal’s Bhangar is Another Nandigram in Making

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated: June 12, 2017, 11:30 PM IST
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Why Farmers Movement in Bengal’s Bhangar is Another Nandigram in Making
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee sips tea at a tea shop in Bhangar. (News18.com)

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee came to power through her movement for farmer’s right in Singur and in Nandigram. The same agrarian issue has put the state Chief Minister in a fix over the acquisition of land for a power project at Bhangar in South 24 Parganas district.

For the last few months Bhangar, 33 KM from Kolkata, has witnessed a large-scale violence and clashes between the police and farmers. BJP and CPI (M) have accused Mamata of forcibly grabbing the land of farmers and alleged that the Bhangar agitation showed the actual face of Ma, Mati, Manush (Mother, soil and people) government.

On Monday, from the same controversial land in Bhangar, Mamata addressed a public meet to defend her stand that the government was always with the farmers, hinting that BJP, CPI (M)-Congress were instigating farmers.

“Our government is always with the farmers. Don’t pay heed to rumours and if you have any grievances please come to me directly. We are always there to solve your issues. Please do not fall into their trap,” Mamata said.

“Electricity is essential for daily life, industry. A power grid will generate employment and it will bring light in your lives,” she said, adding that Bengal is the only state to waive off any tax on agricultural land.

“Power transmission lines do not affect the womb of women, it does not destroy crops. Do not believe in rumours. A few promoting companies want to convert farmland into housing projects. If power grid comes up they cannot do that. These promoting companies have brought outsiders to mislead people. They want to deprive you of electricity”.

“We have brought a law to forbid conversion of agricultural land for promoting business. These promoting companies are trying to cheat farmers and grab their land. We will recover all arms that have been brought to Bhangar by outsiders. If you have grievances against any political leaders in Bhangar, let us know,” she added.

Trouble started in 2013 when TMC strongman from Bhangar, Arabul Islam reportedly acquired 13 acres of land from farmers for a power project of Power Grid Corporation of India Limited - a central government enterprise - to set up a substation of 440/220KV to transmit power between West Bengal and Purnia in Bihar.

Violent clashes have been a regular in this village ever since. The villagers often engage in fierce battle with the police. Gunshots and explosions are a common thing in this village, and Mamata has now asked the district administration to launch a massive drive against the trouble makers.

Speaking to News18, Bengal Congress President Adhir Chowdhury blamed Mamata for the present situation in Bhangar. “Once peaceful and fertile land of Bhangar is now boiling after Mamata ordered to grab lands of farmers. This is the same Mamata who fought for the farmers in Singur and Nandigram. This shows her dual character,” he said.

The government is now fearing the presence of outsiders who are linked with the Maoists and fanning the movement against the state government. With the current situation, it is likely that Bhangar could be another Nandigram and Singur in the making.

First Published: June 12, 2017, 10:46 PM IST
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