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W Bengal shutdown evokes mixed response

The land would be handed over to Tata Motors in a few days with the fencing work almost complete.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2006 10:51 IST

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday continued with her hunger strike for the second day to demand stoppage of farmland fencing for a Tata Motors project in Singur, while a shutdown on the issue evoked mixed response in West Bengal.

The 24-hour shutdown called by the Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), a minor force in the state, affected life with shops in Kolkata being closed and rail services being disrupted in some places in the south.

However, private and public buses plied normally during the strike, which is supported by the Trinamool Congress.

The agitation over the proposed small car project of Tata Motors in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata, took another violent turn on Monday when suspected Maoist guerrillas ransacked a showroom of the company in the heart of Kolkata even as Banerjee started her indefinite fast at Esplanade.

She has not taken anything since Monday evening except for water and is reportedly running high fever.

BJP president Rajnath Singh was also stopped on his way to Singur from Kolkata and activist Medha Patkar was not allowed to reach the scene either.

The government has banned the assembly of more than four people in Singur.

As the controversy escalates, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya said the land would be handed over to Tata Motors in a few days with the fencing work almost complete.

Though the chief minister said he was ready to talk to the opposition over the compensation package, there could not be any talk on the land acquisition process.

Banerjee also rejected Bhattacharya's peace offer and instead called for a "march to Singur" on Thursday besides road blockade on Wednesday in Hooghly.

The mounting protests over the acquisition of farmlands for the project had reached a flashpoint on Saturday when farmers clashed with police during fencing of acquired land.

While Bhattacharya claims that 927 of the 993 acres needed for the Tata Motors plant has been acquired, Banerjee says at least 531 acres are with the farmers.

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