Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were enforced and internet services were suspended in Sandeshkhali, located in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, as local women staged protests demanding the arrest of absconding TMC leader Sheikh Shajahan and his associates, the police disclosed on Saturday, news agency PTI reported. Local women, armed with sticks and brooms, took to the streets in various parts of Sandeshkhali as the protests escalated on Friday, marking the second day of unrest.
According to a senior police officer, “Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed and internet services have been suspended in parts of North 24 Parganas district”, PTI’s report stated.
Shajahan has been on the run since last month when a team from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) was allegedly assaulted by a mob during a raid at his residence regarding an alleged ration scam. The protesting women accused Shajahan and his associates of forcefully capturing land and sexually harassing them. Tensions soared further as Shajahan’s supporters also joined the fray.
Suvendu Adhikari, BJP MLA and leader of the opposition in the West Bengal assembly, condemned the situation, stating, “Human rights have been violated in Sandeshkhali.” Adhikari expressed his concerns, saying, “Sandeshkhali is a place where the ‘rule of law’ is nonexistent, rather the ‘law of rulers,’ namely Sheikh Shajahan and his aides, was established.”
BJP Demands Governor’s Intervention
According to the report, a delegation of BJP MLAs led by Adhikari visited the Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum to Governor C V Ananda Bose’s office, urging intervention to restore peace in Sandeshkhali. Meanwhile, CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty highlighted the non-partisan nature of the protests, stating, “Regardless of party affiliations, villagers have risen against the lawlessness in the area.”
Today @BJP4Bengal MLAs marched to the Raj Bhavan to draw Hon’ble Governor’s attention towards the rampant Human Rights violation in Sandeshkhali.
As Hon’ble Governor is out of the State, we conveyed our message to his OSD. We expect that Hon’ble Governor will visit Sandeshkhali… pic.twitter.com/LcWGvYvuOY
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) February 10, 2024
Opposition Leaders Barred From Entering Sandeshkhali Protest Areas
However, a delegation of opposition leaders was barred from entering the areas of Sandeshkhali where violent protests had occurred over the past two days. The situation took a violent turn as the house of Shajahan’s aide, Shiboprasad Hazra, was vandalised and furniture was set ablaze. Additionally, a poultry farm belonging to Hazra was also torched.
Assuring measures to restore calm, a senior police official affirmed, “We are taking all precautions to restore peace as the class 10 board exams are ongoing. We will take strict action against the perpetrators.”
In a press conference on Friday, Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Manoj Verma appealed to the public, saying, “Investigation is underway into all complaints that have been lodged and action will be taken. At the same time, if someone takes the law into their hands, the law will take its own course. The situation is at present under control.”
In addition, West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar on Friday wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, expressing deep concern over the situation in Sandeshkhali. In his letter, Majumdar stated, “I am writing to bring to your immediate attention the alarming situation of lawlessness and violence prevailing in West Bengal, particularly in the region of Sandeshkhali, North 24 Parganas.”
West Bengal BJP chief Sukanta Majumdar writes to Union Home Minister Amit Shah requesting him to address “lawlessness in Sandeshkhali” pic.twitter.com/McmHIOXEMX
— ANI (@ANI) February 9, 2024
He highlighted the recent attacks on local tribal communities and urged swift intervention from the government to restore law and order. “Immediate measures must be taken to apprehend the perpetrators of these crimes and ensure justice for the victims,” Majumdar stressed, calling for decisive action to address the rampant lawlessness in West Bengal.
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