May 8, 2009 1:21:15 am
The nervousness of the CPM in Nandigram after its rout in the Gram Panchayat polls and the Assembly by-poll was evident today in one of the few islands of its influence here. One of the four women allegedly raped by CPM cadres as they fought Trinamool supporters in November 2007 was prevented from casting her vote despite a gruelling six-hour wait.
Two other victims,who live in Trinamool-dominated areas,cast their vote,the fourth couldnt be traced today.
Sabina (name changed to protect her identity),as first reported by The Indian Express,was allegedly raped by a gang of CPM cadres during Operation Recapture in the wake of the SEZ land acquisition controversy. After she filed a police complaint,Sabina,her husband and their two daughters fled their home in Satengabari in Nandigram and since 2007 have lived in Samsabad village 10 km away.
While most Trinamool supporters returned to their homes after an uneasy peace agreement Satengabari continues to be an island dominated by the CPM where cadre writ runs supreme. Sabina and her husband set out on foot at 6 am and reached the Satengabari primary school where she is registered as a voter at 10 am. Both had valid Election Commission ID cards (numbers withheld to protect identities).
At the polling booth,they were told to return home. The Indian Express saw a local CPM leader Meer Ehsaq Ali and his supporters intimidating her and forcing her to leave the polling booth. We lost our home first. I lost my izzat. And today we lost our right to vote, said Sabina.
When asked about this,Ali said: We did not prevent anybody. Did Sabina come here? I have not seen her.
Sabina took shelter at her brothers house in Satengabari and waited till noon for the situation to ease, hoping that she would be allowed to vote. But there was no way to reach the booth bypassing the CPM cadres, she said.
She alleged that some CPM cadres she named in her rape FIR were also present at the booth. Of the five she named in her FIR,four are at large. One Bachchu Ali was arrested but later freed on bail.
Said Subhendu Adhikary,Trinamool candidate in Tamluk in which Nandigram falls: Yes,I have heard that Sabina and her husband were not allowed to vote,I am going to take up her complaint with the election authorities tomorrow.
Said Anirban Chattopadhyay,Block Development Officer and Assistant Returning Officer for Nandigram: If we get any such complaint,we will initiate an inquiry and take action.
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