CBI bullet hole in police story

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  • Published 19.03.07
suspect shots
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had confided to his cabinet colleagues that not all Nandigram victims fell to police bullets, a minister said. The minister quoted Bhattacharjee as saying some people succumbed to “other kinds” of gunshot wounds and those inflicted by sharp weapons.

Nandigram, March 19: A handful of spent bullets could bore a gaping hole in the official Nandigram story.

Searches on the Nandigram battlefield and a squad of suspected CPM cadres have yielded the CBI bullets accessible only to security services but not used by police during Wednesday’s action.

The finding has prompted the investigative agency to refer in its preliminary report to the presence of outsiders who may have “participated” in the firing in which at least 14 people were killed.

The revelation also raises the disturbing question of how the ammunition, the supply of which is supposed to be stringently monitored and restricted, got into the hands of the suspects.

The recovery of .315 and .38 bore bullets from the spot as well as the seizure of similar rounds from the suspected CPM group at a brick kiln near Nandigram have led the CBI to conclude that these men could have been present during the firing.

The use of .315 and .38 bore bullets is usually restricted to police and paramilitary forces. The CBI recovered bloodstained spent .315 bullets from the site. The catch: .315 bore bullets were not in the police arsenal meant for Nandigram.

According to a senior state police officer, the force used .303, .38 and 7.62 bore bullets during the firing.

“So, from where did the .315 bore bullets at the firing site come?” asked an officer of the CBI team that is carrying out the probe on the directive of the high court.

The .315 bullets have been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

“We seized a large number of used cartridges from these men at the time of their arrest on Saturday. Some were spent cartridges, while most were live. The question is how did they obtain these cartridges and from where,” the CBI officer asked.

“Our presumption that these men may have been present at the time of the firing is not conclusive. But indications suggest that may have been the case,” the CBI officer added. “We have also asked ourselves why they were carrying the spent cartridges. It is possible that they wanted to cover their tracks and not leave any evidence behind. So, they collected as many spent cartridges as possible after the firing.”

The agency has drafted the preliminary report citing the facts of the case, which will be sent to Delhi. After approval, a final report will be submitted by Thursday. An officer said the team could recommend a detailed investigation.

Curiously, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said in Delhi today that the party “still believes” a judicial inquiry is required. The CPM had initially mooted such a plan but hesitated after the court ordered the CBI probe. The revival of the proposal has fuelled speculation that the party is bracing for an adverse CBI report.

CBI special director M.L. Sharma will reach Calcutta tomorrow and visit Nandigram.

The CBI wants to investigate whether the suspected CPM squad could have been present without the knowledge of the police. “The matter needs to be probed thoroughly as some very surprising revelations could emerge,” a CBI official said.

The agency is also expected to cite alleged non-cooperation by officials of the Tamluk district hospital and the police.

“The local police did not provide us with information like the number of rounds fired. There was also delay in submitting the post-mortem reports,” a CBI officer said.