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Sticks, rods and bricks: Forces prevent clashes in Nandigram

With deployment of about 2,200 CAPF personnel, Nandigram people who put up a fierce resistance in 2007 refusing to allow law enforcement personnel inside their territory, today felt safe as they began gathering outside the 355 polling booths when the clock struck 6:30 a.m.

SOUMYADIP MULLICK | Nandigram |

Hundreds of people gathered on a field with sticks, rods, bricks and bamboos, ready for a battle~ such was the scenario in Boyal village in Nandigram where polling though began on a sombre note in the morning, turned bitter in the afternoon as TMC and BJP supporters clashed over allegations of rigging and booth capturing which could have well turned into a riot had large companies of CRPF not intervened at the right time.

With deployment of about 2,200 CAPF personnel, Nandigram people who put up a fierce resistance in 2007 refusing to allow law enforcement personnel inside their territory, today felt safe as they began gathering outside the 355 polling booths when the clock struck 6:30 a.m. However, little did one know that morning doesn’t always show the day.

Just as the overall polling process was going smooth except for some isolated incidents, Boyali village in Nandigram turned into a battlefield as villagers who are apparently divided on the basis of political preferences, mainly TMC and BJP, charged at each other.

A furious mob gathered on the field outside booth no. 7 at Boyal Muktab Prathamik Vidyalay, shouting slogans of “Jai Sri Ram” and “Mamata Chor Hai”.

With trouble on the verge of breaking out, Trinamul supremo Mamata Banerjee reached the spot and stormed into the polling booth, and installed herself inside for the next two hours.

A huge contingent of CAPF arrived at the spot where the agitated villagers began raising a war cry. A section of villagers alleged that BJP booth agents chased their TMC counterparts out of the polling booth and began rigging. They accused Central forces of acting with bias by not taking any action despite receiving complaints.

“We demand re-polling in this booth” shouted a section of the villagers who belonged to the part of the village that is dominated by the minority.

On the opposite side where the Hindu population is the majority strength, men women and kids ran towards the booth while calling out to the rest to join them.

Between these two parts of the village stood a huge empty field that turned into an arena as both sides engaged in scuffle and fist fight, leaving the Central forces to call for more personnel to separate the two factions and prevent the breakout of a possible riot.

Police too reached the spot but tension ran high as the mob kept increasing in strength.

Mamata called Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and warned that a disaster is about to break out and Centre will have to take responsibility for this as Central forces failed to act, she alleged. Banerjee quickly wrote a complaint letter which she told the Press, will be deposited with the EC as an FIR.

After two hours of heated exchanges and vile sloganeering, the CAPF was able to contain the situation while Election Commission general observer reached the spot and spoke to Mamata Banerjee, assuring her of taking necessary steps.

However amidst all the action, what caught attention was, voters resuming to enter booths to cast votes even though the premises outside was still teeming with trouble. Nandigram witnessed 80.79% voter turn-out.