Not too many people outside the nondescript village of Bajemelia in Singur knew about the club, New Ujjwal Sangha. It was just one of the thousands across Bengal.
However, the name was etched in history from the time a group of farmers chatting idly at the club saw officials of Tata Motors and the state government milling about in the distance and spontaneously gheraod the surveying team. Soon, the club became a hub of the organisers of the movement against land acquisition.
The police suspected local farmers had put together an arms stockpile — bows, arrows and crude bombs — at the club to take on the police. They raided the club several times and vandalised it on December 2, 2006, the day the police resorted to lathi charge and firing of tear gas shells and rubber bullets and arrested protesters en masse to take physical possession of the land.
“The members of the club faced severe harassment at the hands of the police. They raided the club several times and vandalised it. But we did not succumb to the pressure,” Prasenjit Dhara, a member of the club, said on Wednesday.
Later, it was right in front of the club that Trinamool Congress chose to erect martyrs’ columns in memory of Rajkumar Bhul and Tapasi Malik, who died at the height of the movement.
Hence, it was hardly a surprise that the club, which was the cradle of the Singur movement, was witness to unbridled joy and celebration as the Supreme Court pronounced the historic verdict on Wednesday. Hundreds of locals broke into wild celebrations as word of the judgment reached Singur. Women blew conch shells and men played with green abir as celebrations ruled the day.
Becharam Manna, the Haripal MLA and one of the key faces of the movement, rushed to the club to join in the celebrations.
The club was established in 1985.