| The ‘bullet’. (Sanat Kumar Sinha)
Nandigram, Oct. 28: Four men died overnight in the continuing land war in Nandigram, where a visiting Mamata Banerjee and her supporters held up an empty .303 cartridge as proof that a bullet was fired at her convoy.
Trinamul Congress leaders, who say the shot was fired from across the Talpatti canal and landed near their leader’s car, left for Calcutta with the prize exhibit tonight while Mamata headed for Contai.
Police sources, however, said a .303 cartridge drops near the rifle after the shot is fired — only the bullet can be expected to land near the target. “If she was shot at, it must have been from close range on the Opposition’s side,” a source said.
Gunfights were continuing across the Nandigram-Khejuri divide this evening, but the four who died were CPM bomb-makers caught in an accidental explosion around midnight.
Three died at the scene — a house in Sherkhanchowk, Khejuri — but Gour Das, 24, was able to speak to The Telegraph in his last hours at the Tamluk district hospital this morning.
“We were making bombs when there was a flash and a loud explosion,” he said.
Mamata, who has called a 12-hour Bengal-wide shutdown on Wednesday against “state-sponsored terrorism” in Nandigram, had gone to Garchakraberia to visit the family of Kayum Kazi, a Pratirodh Committee marcher killed by a stray bullet yesterday. Around 4pm, she heard about firing at Tekhali and headed there.
Trinamul says the crack of a shot caused the motorcade to halt 300 metres from the Tekhali bridge. Mamata’s companions got off their cars and picked up the cartridge from the ground.
“The CPM attacked me. The police removed the security vehicle from my convoy (ahead of the Tekhali visit) without informing me,” Mamata told a roadside meeting. “The chief minister should resign immediately.”
The district police chief said he didn’t know she planned to visit Tekhali, nor that the security vehicle had been withdrawn. Trinamul said the police were told an hour in advance.
Inspector-general of police Raj Kanojia said the police were looking into a complaint made by a person accompanying Mamata.
The dead bomb-makers, apart from Gour, have been identified as Sunil Bar, 45, Bachan Das, 24, and Gobinda Singh, 37. The CPM alleged they were killed in a Pratirodh Committee attack and called a 12-hour bandh in the area tomorrow.