Tension gripped Singur and Bhowanipore village near Nandigram on Wednesday morning over the land issue as villagers clashed with police in pitched battles in both the places that lasted for more than 45 minutes.
At Bhowanipore, the villagers severely injured four policemen, including OC Bhowanipore police station Nirmal Maity, in the clash that eventually led to the death of Sub-Inspector Sadhu Chatterjee who belonged to the DIB. And in Singur, the angry farmers uprooted 80-odd bamboo poles used for fencing and 14 halogen lampposts erected on the paddy fields.
Trouble started in Gangamore in Haldia, bordering Nandigram, when the police tried to stop the villagers who were trying to cut off a road by digging it up to isolate Iswardeha Jalpai village near Nandigram to prevent police forces from entering inside. Immediately, a small posse of policemen with very little arms negotiated the violent villagers.
"When the cops started threatening the villagers and abused them, the villagers started shouting at them. Soon the situation went out of control. Villagers armed with lathis and spades attacked the cops and hit them on their heads," explained Trinamool Congress MLA Suvendu Adhikari, who is heading the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee. By the time DIG (Midnapore Range) NR Babu reached there with reinforcements, the mob had dispersed.
Meanwhile, four cops who had sustained serious head injuries were shifted to the hospital. And the police were searching for the dead body of plain-clothed DIB Sub-Inspector Sadhu Chatterjee, whose body was initially seen lying in the village. Police believe villagers could have thrown his dead body into the river.
The incident shocked the CPI(M) leadership. A rattled CPI(M) MP Lakshman Seth said: "The villagers were armed to the teeth. And there is no way we can get inside Nandigram unless the administration restores normalcy. Today's incident shows the state of affair in Nandigram."
Meanwhile, at Singur trouble began at dawn when 300-odd farmers forced their way inside the fenced area of the proposed Tata automobile plant at Bajemelia and Beraberi villages.
The farmers went into rampage at 5.30 am and the police moved in half-an-hour later. And then followed a 30-minute pitched battle between the police and the farmers in the paddy fields. The police had to resort to lathi-charge and had to fire tear gas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the angry mob.
Later, the villagers also cut off an entry road at Bajemalia village to prevent the cops from coming inside with reinforcements.
Local people alleged that this was in retaliation to the RAF movement inside the Bajemalia villager on Monday, when one of the cops hit the five-year-old daughter of Pashupatinath Mallik. "This agitated the villagers. We have been complaining that the police is frequently entering the villages and peeping inside the houses," said Madan Ghosh of Gopalnagar village.
What's more, the villagers also said that since their lands have been forcefully fenced they had to get in to collect the potatoes and the vegetables that they are producing in their lands.
"The action is part of Singur Krishi Jamin Bachao Committee's plan to make repeated entry inside the fenced area as the land belongs to the farmers. And this will intensify further after Mamata comes to Singur to extend her support to the farmers despite the imposition of Sec 144 Cr PC," said Singur Trinamool Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya.
"Though the incident happened at two places - Bajemelia and Beraberi - the villagers from Rupnarayanpur, Gopalnagar, Singherbera, Bajemalia, Beraberi and Khaserberi participated in the battle against the police. As a result of State government's acquisition of 997 acres of land in Singur, nearly 10,000 farmers have been affected," added Rabindranath Bhattacharya.