Over 100 villagers in Birbhum’s Bolpur on Monday launched an agitation over the state government’s plan to set up Biswa Bangla University within a 300-acre area, claiming the land had originally been acquired from them by the then Left government to set up an industrial project. Villagers damaged and demolished a portion of an under-construction boundary wall in Shabirgunj area, set bicycle tyres on fire and raised slogans against the ongoing project, demanding their land back. According to sources, some protesters even used iron rods and sticks to scare police officers who tried to enter the area. However, police later brought the situation under control.
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Villagers said they would only allow an industrial project to come up on the land in question, as they had given up their plots to the Left government in the hopes of securing employment for future generations. Sources said the university will most likely be built using 20 acres out of the 300 acres of acquired land. “The government is planning to set up a new university of international standards, called Biswa Bangla. The farmers are demanding their land back as they are losing hope of any industrial project coming up in the area,” said a villager.
The villagers had orchestrated a similar movement in 2008 against the CPM, sources said, adding the Trinamool Congress had supported the movement. The TMC had also assured villagers that the land would only be used for industrial purposes if they were voted to power. “Some villagers had demolished a small portion of the wall, and had set a few tyres on fire. The situation is completely peaceful. No one has been arrested,” Additional SP Subimal Pal told The Indian Express.
Trinamool leader Anubrata Mondal blamed outsiders for the agitation, saying: “Some Naxals and local CPM supporters have misled the villagers.” The agitators will continue their movement for industrial units in the area, said a source.