The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fired: 37 bullets, hit: 51
- Police count adds fuel to ‘outsider’ fire in Nandigram

Nandigram, March 21: First information reports filed by police claim they fired only 37 rounds during the Nandigram bloodbath, but doctors say at least 51 villagers were hit by bullets.

“Thirty-eight people have bullet injuries. Apart from this, 13 died of bullet injuries excluding the one victim who was stabbed to death,” said S. Patra, superintendent of Tamluk district hospital.

Add to that the 16 bullet marks on walls and trees around Bhangabera bridge, and the figure rises to 67. A few live bullets, too, were found around the site.

The FIRs at the Khejuri and Nandigram police stations, however, say just 20 rounds were fired at Bhangabera and 17 at Adhikarypara. And these included several rounds fired in the air to break up the “unlawful assembly”.

So who fired the extra bullets'

The arrest of a gang with a stockpile of arms and ammunition at a nearby brick kiln, and their alleged confessions to police, suggest CPM cadre may have accompanied the police and attacked villagers with guns and sharp weapons.

The CBI has discovered at the site bloodstained spent .315 bullets, which weren’t part of the raiding police team’s arsenal.

The central agency’s preliminary report, placed before Calcutta High Court today, says that not just 37 but many more bullets were fired that day, and not all of them were fired by the police.

One of the FIRs says: “The firing at Adhikarypara was ordered by Debasish Boral, additional SP (superintendent) of Tamluk, and additional SP (rural) Satyajit Banerjee while the firing at Bhangabera was ordered by Arun Gupta, IG (western range), and SP A.G. Srinivas.”

Gupta, who yesterday handed the government a confidential report on how the firing took place, told The Telegraph: “I and the SP ordered the firing on the executive magistrate’s instructions.”

He wouldn’t comment how 37 bullets might have injured and killed so many.

The police’s own seniors seem to be sceptical about the figure. Immediately after the March 14 firing, a panel of senior officers had suggested that 400 to 500 rounds may have been fired.

An officer of the rank of deputy inspector-general today began an inquiry on how many bullets the force had fired. “We are sure that a few hundred bullets were used. The chief minister has taken note of it. We’ll count the number supplied to those who were sent there and match it with the number they had after the firing,” a senior officer said.

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