| A man, who lost a member of his family, cries in Nandigram. Picture by Amit Datta
March 17: The CBI today arrested 10 suspected supporters of a political party from a brick kiln near Nandigram and seized from them 20 firearms and a huge cache of ammunition — including six helmets of the type used by police.
With two CPM flags also found in their room, officers were probing whether the men, whom the CBI has handed over to East Midnapore police, are linked to the party.
If the helmet haul and party links are confirmed, this would be the first piece of evidence that cadre did, or intended to, take part in the “recapture” of Nandigram.
The lead came at Adhikarypara, where some villagers told the investigating CBI team they had seen the police move some bodies from one vehicle to another. Trailing the bloodstains from the spot, the sleuths reached three brick kilns near Tekhali bridge at Sher Khan Chowk, 7 km from Nandigram.
They found the gang at the first kiln, Ma Janani Brick Field, and overpowered them.
“Strangely, six helmets that police generally use were found with them. It’s possible they had donned police uniforms on the day of firing and joined the security men,” an officer said.
The police suspect that the men, aged from 25 to 50, had been hiding there for the past six days and were planning an attack on villagers.
“They are not criminals and had subversive motives. We were shocked to find thousands of live ammunition. Around 20 arms, including 9-mm improvised pistols and 11 Japanese-make sophisticated rifles, and live bombs were also seized,” an officer said.
The men told the police they had been brought by members of a political party.
“We have heard about the arrests, but don’t yet know who they are. We are looking into the matter,” said Ashok Guria, CPM East Midnapore secretariat member.