Nandigram-bound EC observers return after hearing gunshots

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Tamluk (WB), Jan 19 (PTI) Two Election Commissionobservers visiting poll-bound West Bengal for an independentassessment on law and order had to return before reachingNandigram today after they heard gunshots.

SP Ashok Biswas said the gunshots were heard when theconvoy of the observers -- Bihar Chief Electoral OfficerSudhir Kumar Rakesh and DIG National Crime Records Bureau ZakiAhmed -- were en route from Khejuri to Shunia near Nandigram.

After hearing the gunshots, the two observers held adiscussion with him and decided to return to Kolkata, Biswassaid.

Shunia had witnessed clashes between TrinamoolCongress and CPI-M for about two months till December end.

While the observers were holding a discussion with SP,Trinamool Congress workers demonstrated before them allegingthat armed attacks by CPI-M cadre were a daily affair.

It could not be ascertained immediately whether theobservers would return tomorrow.

Earlier at Tamluk, the district headquarters, a groupof CPI-M workers claiming to have been driven out of theirhomes by Trinamool Congress, met the observers and claimedthat they were unable to return since November 16, 2008,because of attacks.

Trinamool workers, on the other hand, told them thatCPI-M cadres were unleashing terror at various placesincluding Shunia and demanded that camps of armed Marxists beremoved.

The observers along with the SP earlier visitedKhejuri and spoke with villagers and local leaders of bothCPI-M and Trinamool Congress.

They also held a meeting at the Khejuri policestation.

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