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Since 1st March, 1999
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CRPF pledge: fearless vote

Nandigram, May 10: On the eve of elections in battle-torn Nandigram, the Central Reserve Police Force promised a heavy deployment of personnel so that people can vote without fear.

“The situation is bad here. We’ll work independently tomorrow. Our personnel will be all over Nandigram and patrolling will be intensified from tonight,” CRPF deputy inspector-general Alok Raj said.

The top CRPF officer in the area arrived from Ranchi this afternoon to oversee the deployment of the paramilitary on election day.

“We will ensure that common people cast their votes without any fear,” he promised.

Raj said the people of Nandigram could call him on his mobile — 9474896992 — and report anything untoward.

Suspected CPM cadres fired several rounds and hurled bombs in Satengabari, Raynagar and Jalpai villages today.

Committee supporters Srikanta Das and Lalmohan Das had to be hospitalised.

The attack started after displaced people, who had been living in a makeshift camp at the block office, returned home this afternoon.

A team of CRPF personnel patrolling nearby caught two CPM supporters throwing bombs.

“We handed the duo to the police. The situation is volatile. CPM supporters are pelting us with stones,” said a jawan.

That the police were unhappy with the CRPF’s presence became evident when the paramilitary wanted to raid a house at Raynagar where arms were believed to have been stocked. The police would not allow the raid.

An argument ensued between Nandigram police station officer-in-charge Debashis Chakraborty and CRPF assistant commandant Prem Kumar.

Kumar had his way finally but no arms were found.

“The goons must have fled moments before we reached. The police are not co-operating,” a CRPF jawan said.

Trinamul Congress supporter Bachchu Roy, who had tipped off the CRPF about the alleged stock of arms, was picked up by the police in the evening for misleading them.

At the block hospital, Raj spoke to those who were alle- gedly attacked by CPM goons. Among them was the woman stripped and beaten up for refusing to join a CPM rally. Over 400 displaced people gathered outside the hospital as Raj did the rounds.

As he stepped out, women held his hands and started crying, asking him to ensure that they could return home.

“I know about the stripping and also about voter identity cards being seized from villagers. I ask you to lodge a complaint with the police and I promise that all of you will be able to cast votes,” Raj said.

The state election commission today admitted that several thousand people had lost their photo identity cards in Nandigram. It has decided to allow people to vote in Nandigram block I and II if their faces match with the photographs on electoral rolls.

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