It’s an anti-land acquisition struggle with a difference.
Farmers in Bolpur town of West Bengal’s Birbhum district are protesting the acquisition of 300 acres of land, not because an industrial hub is planned but because even nine years after the acquisition, no work has started.
On Wednesday, 25 members of an anti-land acquisition body were arrested after a scuffle with the police. They were later released.
The WBIIDC acquired the land in 2000 for an industrial hub in collaboration with a private firm, Sriniketan Santiniketan Infrastructure Development Pvt Ltd. But apart from the construction of some roads and laying of electric lines, nothing’s been done.
The farmers, backed by the Sariniketan Santiniketan Krishi Jami Banchao Committee, have started to reclaim their plots for cultivation. On Wednesday morning, they violated curfew — clamped since Tuesday night — and barged into the walled enclosure to till the land.
The Committee had threatened to do so in January. On Tuesday, it announced its members would begin tilling from Wednesday, following which curfew was clamped.
Some farmers are also unhappy with the compensation amount. “Farmers were paid much less than what the WBIIDC proposed to pay per acre,” said Mojammel Haque, a Committee leader.
The Committee is backed by the Trinamool Congress. “More than 60 out of 300 farmers whose land was acquired have not been paid,” its district president Anubrata Mondal alleged.