50 injured in pre-poll violence in Midnapore districts

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Midnapore, May 4 (UNI) With only a week to go before the Panchayat elections, campaigns have begun gaining momentum in East and West Midnapore districts with about 50 people being injured in pre-poll violence in the two districts.

East Midnapore SP S S Panda today said there have been stray incidents of violence and clashes between CPI(M) on one side and AITC, Congress and Jharkhand Party(JP) on the other.

Hundreds of people, who were returning home in Nandigram after the year-long stakeout, following the March 14 carnage last year, were seen fleeing from their villages once again.

''People are apprehensive of fresh violence in the wake of clashes between the CPI(M) and BUPC at Janbazar, Tekhali, Garchakraberiya, Sonachura, Bhangaberiya, Southkhali and Gangra,'' the SP said.

AITC supporters have set up camps to provide shelter to their own supporters and party candidates, including Shyamlal Giri, Sankar Das and Kanchan Das.

These relief camps are also sheltering more than 500 AITC supporters.

Police said that at least 10 people had been injured in the recent clashes and incidents of violence in Nandigram.

BUPC supporters, along with some intelligentsia from Kolkata, who accuse the CPI(M) for the violence are still taking part on a sit-in strike in front of Nandigram BDO's office.

BDO Gokulananda Das admitted that the situation was again ''going out of control'' just before the Panchayet elections.

While, MLA and Convenor of the BUPC Sisir Adhikary alleged that the CPI(M) activists were ''driving villagers away for fears of losing in Nandigram'', local CPI(M) leader Ashok Guria says that this is a mere propaganda.

Local AITC leaders alleged that CRPF personnel have been restricted within their camps and CPI(M) cadres were ''having their way with help from local police''.

SP East Midnapore district S S Panda, however, said that it was the state government, which had brought the CRPF to the area and that only it clould decide on how far the personnel would go.

He, however, added that the situation was totally within control.

In West Midnapore, the CPI(M) poll campaign was on a higher pitch than other political parties except in the Maoist-dominated areas like Belpahari, Banspahari, Jamboni, Lalgarh areas.

The looting of two Insas rifles last week by Maoists after killing two police personnel in Dahijuri area has made the police sit up and take notice. SP R Rajshekharan said ''Maoists have given a call for vote boycott in these areas.'' Furthermore, the CPI(M) has alleged that Maoists were trying to help Jharkhandi candidates to win in these areas by influencing tribal people to vote for them.

CPI(M) candidates, many of whom get police protection in these areas, are still afraid to go out for poll campaigns, party sources said.

West Midnapore District Magistrate N S Nigam has, however, said that the polls will be by and large peaceful in this district.

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