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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Singur farmers disappointed but still hopeful

IANS  Singur, June 22, 2012
First Published: 16:11 IST(22/6/2012) | Last Updated: 19:19 IST(22/6/2012)

Notwithstanding their disappointment at the Calcutta high court ruling against them, the "unwilling" farmers of Singur on Friday said they would continue their war and win it in the near future.

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"We are certainly disappointed but have not lost hope. We have and we will continue our struggle until the day comes when we will get back our land," says Partha Mallik, echoing the sentiments of many others like him.

They had six summers ago been allegedly deprived of their fertile land for setting up of a manufacturing unit in this rural belt of Hooghly district.

The Calcutta high court on Friday struck down as unconstitutional and void, the Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Act, 2011, by which the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress government sought to scrap the land lease of Tata Motors and return the acquired lands to farmers and give them a better compensation and rehabilitation package.

The automobile major had to shift its Nano small car plant to Sanand in Gujarat from Singur in 2008 because of protests by farmers led by the Trinamool Congress. The party sought the return of 400 acres taken from farmers, who were reportedly unwilling to part with their lands.

The wait of the 3,000 odd farmers, who had with the arrival of the Banerjee regime, hoped to get back their land, will continue as the West Bengal government has decided to appeal against the verdict before the apex court.

"The verdict is unfortunate and we do not accept it. We may have lost the battle but not the war. We are certainly disappointed but we have faith in our leader (Banerjee) and are hopeful that she will do all to get back our land," said Mahadeb Das, of Bhumi Unchched Protirodh Committee which was at the forefront of the peasant agitation against the alleged forcible acquisition.

While many of the unwilling farmers vowed to continue their fight, some of them expressed their disillusionment and accused the Trinamool leadership of ignoring their interests.

"When they were not in power, Singur was like a home to them as the leaders made a beeline. But now, no one comes here to take a look at our condition, to know if we are alive," said Biplab Khamaru.

However, Trinamool lawmaker from adjacent Haripal, Becharam Manna said the people were not disappointed.

"The matter had to go to the Supreme Court. There is no question of disappointment as we were mentally prepared for it. Even if the verdict had gone in our favour today, the Tatas would have appealed in the apex court," Manna told IANS.

While the unwilling farmers, bereft of main means of livelihood - their fertile land - prepare to continue their daily struggle, those who had consensually given up land and accepted compensation welcomed the verdict, hoping for some investment on the land.

"I am happy for the verdict. Had the factory been here, a lot of us would have got jobs. Maybe, with the win, they (Tatas) may think of setting up a factory here and we may again get a job," said Basudeb Khamaru.

Meanwhile, Banerjee has assured the people of Singur of her government's commitment to give back their land.

"Throughout my life, I have struggled for the cause of the farmers, working class, poor and under-privileged. We are committed to the cause of the farmers of Singur and will continue to stand by them," Banerjee said.

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