The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Left cry for scalps of four observers

Durgapur, April 28: After two observers in Calcutta were sent packing on election-eve, the Left is turning up the heat on four more.

In Burdwan district, leaders of the CPM and the CPI have lodged complaints against C. Umashankar (Purbasthali), L.N. Tamuli (Katwa), K.S. Samaria (Asansol) and C.R. Mohandas of the Burdwan (South) Assembly segment, alleging misuse of power.

On Wednesday, the Election Commission had removed H.R. Bheemashankar and Durgacharan Sahoo, the observer and expenditure observer for Belgachhia (East).

'We have taken strong exception to the manner in which the observers are preventing us from organising rallies and also harassing our supporters. Though the Trinamul and the Congress are violating EC guidelines by giving voters cash and other incentives... no action has been taken against them despite our complaints,' said Amal Halder, the CPM's Burdwan district secretary.

State party secretary Biman Bose has been informed and a copy of the complaint was sent to Burdwan district magistrate Subrata Gupta yesterday, Halder added.

Gupta said he was aware of the allegations but refused to elaborate.

Halder said that on Monday morning, the CPM and the CPI had jointly organised a rally for their candidates in Purbasthali and Kalna, which go to polls on May 3. As they were passing the Kalna sub-divisional hospital ' several activists were on rickshaws, two-wheelers and bicycles ' Umashankar stopped them and asked them to go back.

'Umashankar should not have stopped us as we had taken permission from the Kalna SDO (sub-divisional officer) and police to organise the rally. We showed him the documents but he did not allow us to carry on. We have complained against him to the SDO,' alleged Selim Sheikh, secretary of the CPI's Kalna zonal committee.

Halder alleged that Rabindranath Chatterjee, the Congress candidate from Katwa, had distributed Rs 500 each to voters with booth slips but no action was taken against him.

Adding insult to injury was a crackdown on party veteran Madhu Banerjee's house, he said. The observer for Burdwan (South), C.R. Mohandas, allegedly harassed Banerjee on the charge of making fake voter identity cards in his Burdwan house during the raid on Tuesday, which yielded nothing, Halder added.

'We will not tolerate such an insult,' he warned.

Security blanket

The Election Commission today said central paramilitary forces would be deployed on the same scale in the fourth phase of polls as earlier.

'Around 435 companies will take charge at Murshidabad, Burdwan and Birbhum tomorrow and begin area domination immediately,' said deputy election commissioner Anand Kumar.

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