Saturday, December 8, 2007

Outsiders in khaki in Nandigram firing confirmed

NANDIGRAM: CBI investigators probing the Nandigram firing on March 14 have identified at least 27 outsiders in khaki who moved with the police force to break the barricade that the Trinamul Congress-led Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee supporters had put up in the villages.

Investigators got the lead from the video footage of the carnage recorded by none other than the police and cross-checked it with on-the-spot interrogation of more than 50 villagers and two police officers present on the day of the firing.

CBI officers then summoned villagers, owing allegiance to both the parties — CPM and BUPC, and questioned them with video footage on display. The process helped them to spot the men in khaki — a little different from police uniform difficult to differentiate from a distance. These men, according to CBI, were heavily armed and moving with the police. The footage showed that these men, unlike the police, had no shoes.

It was evident from the footage that while the police posted on Bhangabera Bridge was busy asking villagers to make way for the police, these "cops" sneaked into the crowd with batons and started chasing them. According to the CBI, this was enough provocation for the crowd to turn violent. Angry villagers then started pelting stones at the police.

In the melee, these men chased some of the BUPC supporters with fire arms. Locals reportedly identified them as CPM workers. CBI officers have recorded their version and verified their presence in the procession from the footage. Their statements corroborated the video recording of the incident by and large. Investigators have reasons to believe that these outsiders on khaki sparked the violence.

Four CBI teams on Saturday visited Sonachura, Adhikaripara and Gokulnagar villages in Nandigram. A team met Sushil Das Adhikari whose brother Salil Das Adhikari sustained bullet injuries on March 14. Sushil was also with the procession. Both brothers were present at the Gokulnagar's Malpara where BUPC supporters had assembled.

The CBI team is now looking for men in khaki. It has interrogated a few local CPM activists who reportedly refused to identify them. They claimed that some CPM supporters of Sonachura and Bhangabera villages were present with the police as they were forced to join and guide them. But they denied the charge that these men were carrying firearms and chased away BUPC supporters.

CBI officers on Saturday recovered more charred bones and fire arms — a .303 rifle and an improvised gun from the Talpati Canal. They said the charred bones along with those found at the five graves at Khejuri might have a connection with the March 14 carnage.

That explains why the team has also collected a detail list of the missing persons since March 14. While the CBI did its bit, a CID team under IG (I) D P Tarenia visited the dreaded spot at Bamanchak village on Saturday from where the charred remains were recovered only the other day. Family members of Bacchan Garudas, Srimanta Das and Sunil Bar killed in a blast on October 27 at Sherkhanchawk, claimed that the bones were those of their relatives and asked the police to hand them over.

Within a day after the state government ordered the CID inquiry into the mystery graves, the police rounded up 15 people including a CPM local committee member on charges of rioting and attempt to murder.

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