Violence rocks Nandigram on poll day, two injured (Lead)

May 7th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Nandigram (West Bengal), May 7 (IANS) Intermittent gun fire and bombings marred the poll process in West Bengal’s trouble-torn Nandigram, as Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Trinamool Congress engaged in violent clashes throughout the day.
Rural pockets like Gokulnagar, Takapura, Sonachura and Adhikaripara in Nandigram witnessed heavy bombings and gunfire leaving at least two people injured. The two were hit on their heads with revolver butts, according to police.

East Midnapore district’s Nandigram, which turned into a synonym for political violence from early 2007, flared up anew over the Lok Sabha elections. Nandigram comes under the Tamluk constituency. Over 50 people were killed in the region since January 2007.

Thursday’s clashes broke out over booth capturing, both parties alleged.

“We received complaints from Nandigram’s Adhikaripara and Gokulnagar area where crude bombs were reportedly thrown. The police rushed to the spot and arrested three miscreants from the area,” West Bengal Deputy Inspector General of Police (Midnapoore Range) Praveen Kumar told reporters here.

He said: “An investigation has already been initiated to find out who were involved in that violence.”

According to sources, hundreds of panic stricken voters were seen running for their lives as firing and bombings rattled the various polling areas in and around Nandigram region.

“The Trinamool Congress activists captured booths and terrorised people in Nandigram. They beat up our party cadres. Three of our men are injured,” alleged Lakshman Seth, the CPI-M strongman and sitting MP fighting the polls from Tamluk constituency.

He also demanded re-polling in 54 booths in Nandigram, about 150 km from Kolkata.

Brushing aside Seth’s charge, the opposition Trinamool Congress candidate Subhendu Adhikari blamed the CPI-M for the violence. “We have immense faith in people who are casting their votes today (Thursday). They’d earlier given their support to us (Trinamool Congress) and this time also, they will vote for a change.

“We are hopeful of a good result. People are enthusiastically exercising their franchise in this election,” he said.

Sources said sporadic clashes also took place between CPI-M and Trinamool activists in many other parts of the constituency.

“The situation has been brought under control after police intervention,” East Midnapore police superintendent Pallab Kanti Ghosh said.

A police officer said the political clashes “mainly took place in the rural pockets in locations away from the booths. So it did not affect the polling process.

Meanwhile, the ruling CPI-M also alleged that their booth agents were threatened by Trinamool Congress supporters and thrown out of the polling stations in Nandigram.

Local Trinamool Congress leader of Nandigram, Shiekh Suffian, however, said no violence was triggered in the region by his party activists.

“The CPI-M activists terrorised voters in Nandigram. They started heavy firing suddenly,” he said.

Violence broke out in Nandigram early 2007 after local farmers, backed by the Trinamool Congress-led opposition parties, protested the state government’s land acquisition bid for the proposed chemical hub project with Indonesia’s Salim Group. The state government later shifted the project.

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