The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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War zone heads for harvest strife

Keshpur (West Midnapore), Sept. 30: A combination of two factors — the impending panchayat polls and the approaching harvest season — have led intelligence agencies to fear more CPM-Trinamul Congress clashes for supremacy in the region.

The two factors are funnelling the pent-up anger within Trinamul cadre after two years of life away from home, a senior intelligence official said.

Trinamul leaders said the two Midnapore districts have about 700 party workers waiting in makeshift camps since the CPM “retrieved lost ground months before the 2001 Assembly polls”.

CPM-Trinamul clashes first rocked the region before the Panskura bypoll in 1999. Trinamul’s Bikram Sarkar won the election.

The West Midnapore exiles are housed in camps at Garbeta and Midnapore town and their East Midnapore counterparts are staying in camps at Contai, Panskura and Radhamani, said officials. Several more are staying with relatives away from home.

Police are looking with increasing concern at areas within six police stations. Ranking high on the anxiety-list in West Midnapore are Garbeta, Pingla and, of course, Keshpur; in the east, officials said the situation is worrying at Bhajachauli, Patashpur and Khejuri.

The exiles, officials said, have realised they are staring at a void if not allowed to return home before the harvest season. “This, more than anything else, has made them increasingly restive,” a senior intelligence official said. The flare-up season could well be early next year.

The prospect of losing to the CPM areas won over during the last panchayat polls is also acting as a “major cause of anxiety” for the Trinamul supporters.

One-time Keshpur “hero” and Trinamul leader Mohammad Rafique, who tried to waged “war” against the CPM to regain lost ground here recently is the latest in the list of oustees. He is staying at a hotel in Midnapore town.

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