Anti-land acquisition group claims police firing in Birbhum
Kolkata: Days after violence in state's Birbhum district that left several people injured, an anti-land acquisition group on Thursday claimed that the police had opened fire on the villagers during the protests.
Parties for Democratic Socialism (PDS) leader Samir Putatunda, who accompanied a delegation of the Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee to a meeting here with Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee, claimed that the police "resorted to firing" during the protests.
"We feel there was no necessity for resorting to such action against villagers," he said.
His statement came a day after Chatterjee had denied that he ordered the police to fire in Loba village during a clash.
The villagers also countered the minister's claim that Maoist cadres were involved in the clash on November 6, in which 27 villagers were injured.
"Maoists were not involved in our agitation. Villagers have united seeking proper compensation and rehabilitation," Committee President Felaram Mondal said.
Mondal, when asked whether outsiders were present during the clash, said "I could not ascertain who all were there as it was heavily raining that night."
The clash occurred after the police, armed with a court order, went to take away an earth cutting machine confiscated by villagers seeking proper compensation for their land.
Around 3000 acres were to be acquired under a joint venture project for an open cast mine by Bengal EMTA and DVC in 2005.
However, only around 700 acres could be acquired after the villagers resisted the land acquisition under the banner of the Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee, an apolitical body, and confiscated the earth moving equipment.
"We have faith in the government that the issue will be resolved, but the agitation will continue and a meeting will be held at the dharna manch at Loba village," Putatunda said.
Chatterjee said after the meeting that though the agitators demanded a judicial enquiry into the incident, an administrative investigation was already on and should be given some time.
"I will talk with the representatives of DVC Emta and discuss the committee's demand for proper compensation and rehabilitation of villagers whose land was acquired," Chatterjee said.
"I am sure the issue will be resolved amicably," he said.
He, however, refused to comment about the committee leadership's denial on his allegation that members of CPI(M) and Congress were involved in the clash apart from Maoist cadres.