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Since 1st March, 1999
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Experts scan debris for ‘ammo heap’

May 16: Forensic experts who visited Basanti today to inquire into yesterday’s explosion, which killed a minister’s relative, did not rule out the possibility of explosives being stored in the house.

“We have collected samples (utensils and clothes for example) from the debris in Kumrokhali village. The possibility of a blast caused by explosives stored there cannot be ruled out, but we have to go there again before drawing a conc-lusion,” said Central Forensic Science Laboratory director Chandranath Bhattacharya.

The ancestral house of irrigation minister and RSP leader Subhas Naskar was reduced to ashes after alleged motorcycle-borne CPM supporters hurled a bomb at the house.

Gouri Naskar, the wife of the minister’s nephew, died in SSKM Hospital this morning.

Her body was not taken back to Kumrokhali to avoid a mourning procession and further escalation of tension in the area, 90km from Calcutta.

At the blast site, Bhattacharya said: “We are mainly looking into two aspects — whether one bomb was hurled or a stockpile of bombs stored in the house exploded.”

The experts found 37 voter I-cards in the debris.

Gouri’s inconsolable mother-in-law, Kalyani, said: “Three motorcycles carrying nine people sped past our house around 2.30pm yesterday. An explosion occurred seconds later and the room where Gouri and (her husband) Sushanta lived turned into a ball of fire.”

Local CPM leaders denied any role in the explosion. “The RSP supporters had stockpiled bombs in the house. After they went off, the party is trying to pass the buck,” said Ammad Mollah, a member of the CPM local committee.

RSP and CPM supporters have been engaged in violent clashes before and after Wednesday’s panchayat polls.

BSF and Rapid Action Force jawans patrolled the area today. “We have made elaborate security arrangements,” said South 24-Parganas police chief Praveen Kumar.

RSP supporters, however, alleged that CPM workers in motorcycles went around the area again last night, asking them to flee before repolling to 14 booths on Monday.

“The CPM is desperate to retain the Charavidya village panchayat,” said Anima Sardar, whose sister-in-law Nandita Dolui is an RSP candidate.

Sardar also alleged that armed CPM supporters ransacked six houses of RSP supporters after a peace meeting at Sonakhali, 20km away.

Sunderbans affairs minister Kanti Ganguly of the CPM, the RSP irrigation minister, Kumar and senior district officials attended the meeting.

The CPM denied the charges of intimidation. “Nothing of the sort happened,” said Sudarshan Samul, a member of the Basanti zonal committee.

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