Singur, June 23: A sense of regret and apprehension today replaced the delight that had filled Krishna Chandra Manna's household in Singur's Beraberi Purbapara village on June 14, 2011, the day the Singur bill was passed in the Assembly.
Calcutta High Court's verdict today has left every member in Krishna Chandra's family of 11 ' among the 100-odd families of "unwilling" farmers whose financial standing is relatively better ' angry and frustrated.
They wish they had taken compensation like the willing landowners, mostly from Joymollah and Gopalnagar villages, barely a few kilometres from their house.
Krishna Chandra's 12-bigha land is part of the 400 acres that the government acquired from the unwilling farmers.
Like him, most of those who had refused to take compensation cheques in 2006 protesting the acquisition of land by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, are now blaming the Mamata Banerjee administration for "letting us down".
"I wish I had not refused the compensation then. Now it seems almost impossible to get back my land and I don't think there'll be any compensation," Krishna Chandra, 75, said.
"My three sons were beaten up by police in front of my eyes. All these years, I thought the right way of protesting the government's atrocities was refusing the money it offered. But now I realise we had been foolish," said the retired schoolteacher who along with his three sons had regularly gone to the place where Mamata had organised a dharna against forcible land acquisition.
"Now, I either want my land back or a government job for one of my sons or compensation," he said, echoing a demand raised by several other villagers in Beraberi, Khasher Bheri and Bajemelia villages. Krishna Chandra is only left with three bighas.
Today, a bigha here sells between Rs 40 lakh and Rs 50 lakh. But at the time of the acquisition, the government had paid only Rs 3.6 lakh a bigha. Had Krishna Chandra agreed to the compensation, he would have got Rs 43.2 lakh.
"Imagine the amount of money I could have earned," he said.
The Mannas used to grow paddy, jute, potato, brinjal, cauliflower, carrot, chilli, cabbage and other vegetables throughout the year on their land.
Krishna Chandra's two-storied house was built mostly with the earnings from his land.
He said that before the land was acquired, he used to earn Rs 80,000-100,000 a year on average by selling crops. The produce also sustained his family.
His elder son Ganesh, a commerce graduate who passed out in 1991, did not have to look for a job. "Then, we were buying a bigha almost every year and I thought there was no need for a job," he said.
His two brothers do odd jobs and don't earn much. The family is now dependent on Krishna Chandra's monthly pension of Rs 7,000.
Krishna Chandra said the family was yet to receive the monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 that Mamata had announced. "I had submitted my bank account number and other documents to the block development office in Singur but nothing has happened," he said.
Now Krishna Chandra's dream of getting his two-year-old grandson Suman admitted to a private English-medium school seems a distant dream. "Suman studies in an anganwadi school. English is not taught in such schools and he won't have a good future. He has to eat the mid-day meal as we can't afford to give him school tiffin," Krishna Chandra said.
Most other families in the village also spoke about their regret and anger.
"We are neither here nor there. Our protest seems to have gone waste. The leaders misled us," said Joydeb Manna, 61. His 12-member family is dependant on agriculture.
Eight of the family's 12 bighas were acquired for the Tata Nano project. Joydeb said his father Bhadreswar, 87, suffered a cerebral attack in December, "unable to bear the stress".
Farmers who had taken compensation heaved a sigh of relief after today's verdict. "Thank God, I didn't take part in the protest despite several requests and pressure," said Dibakar Das of Joymollah village. He had got a compensation of Rs 4 lakh for his two-bigha single-crop land. "I have married off my daughter and have invested the rest in a fixed deposit scheme," he said.