The Sandeshkhali area of North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal witnessed violent protests as villagers demanded the arrest of Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sheikh Shajahan and his associates. The protests escalated into chaos, resulting in vandalism and arson, with tensions running high in the region.
The unrest stems from the disappearance of Shajahan last month after an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team was attacked while conducting searches at his residence in connection with an alleged ration distribution scam. Despite being summoned twice by the agency, Shajahan has not appeared for questioning, further fueling public anger.
The situation took a grim turn as chilling allegations surfaced, accusing Shajahan and his associates of abducting married Hindu women, subjecting them to heinous crimes, and exploiting them for their own satisfaction. Locals allege that Shajahan specifically targeted Hindu women, highlighting concerns of communal tensions in the area.
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This is from Sandeshkhali in West Bengal
Large numbers of local women have gathered to demand arrest of TMC goon Shahjahan Sheikh
This Shahjahan is same TMC leader allegedly behind attack on ED officials in WB pic.twitter.com/rkyHhYUr8a
— Abhishek (@AbhishBanerj) February 9, 2024
Describing the atrocities that are committed by Shajahan and his men, a local woman said, “TMC goons pick up whichever woman they like and keep them for night after night.” Hundreds of women in Sandeshkhali in Bengal have come out to protest against TMC’s Shahjahan Sheikh
Meanwhile, Amit Malviya, who is in charge of BJP’s National Information & Technology Dept and Co-incharge West Bengal, took to X, the microblogging site, to denounce the atrocities that are being committed under the regime of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal. Highlighting the plight of the Hindu women, Malviya said, “Protests have erupted across Basirhat’s Sandeskhali.
Locals are demanding the arrest of dreaded monster Shahjahan Sheikh and his men. But what should shake our collective conscience is the chilling account of how Shahjahan and his men would abduct young, good-looking, married women from their homes, violate them night after night and send them back only when they were ‘satisfied’… They were kept at the TMC party office and sent back at dawn. Shahjahan picked up only Hindu women, never Muslims; confide these hapless women…”
He further said, “Hindu women in Bengal, under Mamata Banerjee’s regime, are fair game for Muslim men like Sheikh Shahjahan, because she has pawned her sensibilities as a woman in lieu of Muslim votes. She is as much a criminal as Shahjahan is.”
Protests have erupted across Basirhat’s Sandeskhali. Locals are demanding arrest of dreaded monster Shahjahan Sheikh and his men. But what should shake our collective conscience, is the chilling account of how Shahjahan and his men would abduct young, good looking, married women… pic.twitter.com/OdDCvqN2sX
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) February 9, 2024
The violence reached a pinnacle when locals, carrying sticks and objects, took to the streets in different areas. The house of Shajahan’s aide, Shibu Prasad Hazra, was vandalised, and three poultry farms owned by Hazra were set ablaze. Protesters claimed that the farms were built on usurped land, and they were forced to work on them.
In response to the escalating tensions, the police detained eight individuals connected to the protests. The situation prompted a lathi charge by the police to disperse the crowd.
Superintendent of Police Hossain Mehedi Rahaman assured that forces were deployed to manage the situation. A complaint against Shajahan and his aides was filed by villagers, and investigations are ongoing. Rahaman emphasised that the law would take its course against those resorting to violence.
Simultaneously, supporters of Hazra, Shajahan’s aide, were accused of attacking protesters, leading to clashes between the two factions. Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Manoj Verma stated in a press conference that the situation was under control, urging people not to take the law into their own hands. He assured me that the complaints would be thoroughly investigated and appropriate action would be taken.
In response to the unrest, locals initiated a sit-in outside the Sandeshkhali police station, declaring their determination to continue until Shajahan and his associates were arrested. Shajahan’s disappearance, especially in the wake of serious allegations, has fueled public outrage and demands for justice.
Lashing out at Mamata Banerjee, Malviya said, “Sheikh Shahjahan is absconding for almost a month now, after his men attacked ED officials, who were in Sandeskhali to investigate the multi crore Ration Scam. The man is a terrorist but has the protection of Mamata Banerjee. Otherwise, there is no reason why he should not have been arrested so far. Now, with grave charges of rape and illegal confinement emerging, it will be impossible for Mamata Banerjee to defend the criminal. Mamata Banerjee should hang her head in shame. She is a blot, not just as a woman Chief Minister, but also as a human being.”
BJP Leader Suvendu Adhikari said that what is happening is a repercussion of the state government’s actions.
“We do not support taking the law into ones hands. What is happening in the last 12 years there, it seems that democracy is over there. The right to vote and the right to voice ones opinions is over. Whatever happening is a normal turn of events. People were angry over a long time and that has come out.”
“People do not have faith in government. This is a government of corruption and hooliganism. The police are like the cadre of the TMC. So people are taking the law into their own hands. I appeal to everyone not to take the law into their own hands. Please continue your agitation in a peaceful way. You will get justice someday,” he said