Itís TMC vs TMC in West Bengalís latest land row

FP

The violence in Dubrajpur in Bengal's Birbhum district by villagers protesting against land acquisition by a private coal mining company has a strong resemblance to similar campaigns in Singur and Nandigram. Like in those two places, here too suspected Naxalite activists played a key role and joined hands with a range of political outfits in the 'Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee' (KJRC) or Save Agricultural Land Committee that led the protests.

However, in a significant difference, the local unit of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress is sharply divided over the controversy. While one faction of the party is with the KJRC, another is said to have been helping the mining firm acquire land. This faction was regularly interacting with the firm's officials at their office in Dubrajpur which has been closed since mid-September.

Hundreds of villagers armed with bows, arrows and crude bombs had attacked a police contingent in Loba village near Dubrajpur in the early hours of Tuesday when they went there to remove earth-moving equipment of the mining firm, Bengal EMTA. The equipment was used by Bengal EMTA for excavation about a year ago but had been lying idle after the villagers protested. More than 25 policemen were injured and some villagers claimed to have suffered bullet injuries.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday denied the police had opened fire but ordered an administrative inquiry into the incident. She described the incident as "unfortunate" and said the villagers were provoked by outside elements. The inquiry will reveal who provoked the villagers, she added. "The state government is with the villagers and the state government's declared policy is not to acquire land for private parties. The villagers were not at fault because some of them were provoked," Banerjee said.

On Wednesday, when The Indian Express visited Loba, the villagers had dug trenches across the main roads leading to the village to stop police and other officials from entering - a repeat of the tactics used in Nandigram. KJRC members and some other villagers were well-prepared for Tuesday's trouble as they had stocked bows, arrows, crude bombs and some other traditional weapons as they had been tipped off about the police action, sources said.

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