CPI-M boycotts Election Commission observers meet

Jhargram (WB): The CPI(M) today boycotted a meeting called by Election Commission observers here to assess the law and order situation in the Naxal-hit area, while opposition Trinamool Congress and Congress demanded immediate removal of armed camps allegedly being run by the Marxists in West Midnapore district to ensure fair polls.

The two EC observers, V S Reddy, DIG Andhra Pradesh, and P R K Naidu, DIG, National Crime Record Bureau, who arrived from Midnapore held a two-hour meeting with the administration and police officials as well as representatives of political parties to assess the law and order situation.

CPI(M) Jhargram gramin zonal committee secretary Rabi Sarkar claimed that the party was informed very late about the meeting by the EC observers. "We decided to boycott it."

The Trinamool Congress and Congress alleged existence of armed CPI(M) camps in West Midnapore and demanded that they be removed for free and fair assembly elections.

Trinamool Congress district general secretary Gouranga Pradhan and DCC secretary Tarapada Maity submitted a memorandum on their demands.

Jharkhand Party (Naren group) chief Chunibala Hansda claimed that she could not attend the meeting as her party was not informed about it.

District Magistrate Suresh Gupta and Superintendent of Police Manoj Verma were present at the meeting.

The EC observers, whose schedule was kept a secret, later left for Lalgarh with armed police posted all along the 22 km stretch between Jhargram and Lalgarh.

Yesterday, EC team leader Sudhir Kumar Rakesh, the Bihar CEO and another observer Zaki Ahmed returned before reaching Nandigram in neighbouring East Midnapore district after they heard gunshots.

The observers are in poll-bound West Bengal to make an independent assessment of law and order sitiuation.