Tamluk, Nov. 10: CPM supporters stopped ambulances carrying those injured in firing by their comrades at four points on the Nandigram-Chandipur road this afternoon.
An hour's drive from Nandigram to the district hospital in Tamluk took almost two hours more when every minute was worth a life.
"Police intervened at all four places to get the ambulances going again," East Midnapore additional superintendent of police Debashis Boral said.
Sheikh Salim, who was driving one of the vehicles, said he was stopped at Fulni More, Reyapara, Hanschora and Magrajpur.
"The cadres refused to budge, though we pleaded with them to spare us," Salim said.
The police said Gautam Das, Ashis Pandit, Tapas Khatua and Jadav Maity were being brought to Tamluk as their condition had deteriorated. Two of them were later shifted to Calcutta. Three others were brought to Tamluk in a police jeep.
Pandit, who was hit in the abdomen, alleged that he heard a CPM man say at Fulni More that their ploy was to dim their chances of survival.
"The CPM cadres were not satisfied killing our men," said Sisir Adhikary, the Trinamul Congress MLA from Egra.
He alleged that CPM cadres secretly took away many people injured by their bullets.
Eight men were arrested tonight when they were taking some of the injured to Egra.
Adhikary said Sukur Ali and Tapan Ghosh, who were involved in the Chhoto Angaria "massacre" six years ago, were among those held. The two were shown as absconders in CBI records. Seven persons were allegedly burnt to death at Chhoto Angaria — in West Midnapore — in 2001.
Western range deputy inspector-general N. Ramesh Babu confirmed the arrests but refused to say whether Ali and Ghosh were in custody.
East Midnapore police chief S.S. Panda said: "The situation is really tense after two Bhoomi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee members were killed and 20 others were injured in Maheshpur today."
He conceded that the police could not provide security to committee members marching peacefully, but added that the administration had not approved the march.
As the first procession comprising women and children reached Dhanyakhal around 12.30pm, the CPM supporters present there retreated seeing the turnout.
When the procession led by committee convener Abu Taher reached Maheshpur, 3km away, CPM goons started firing. Sheikh Rezaul, 38, was riddled with bullets.
Around the same time, two more processions from Garchakraberia and Sonachura reached Barnagar, 2km from Maheshpur. Shyamali Majumdar, 33, was shot dead there.
Hundreds ran to the makeshift relief camps for cover.