Three Bengal ministers visit trouble-torn Sandeshkhali to speak to people about grievances

We are not trying to muzzle anyone's voice, the accused persons have been arrested, Sujit Bose said

Published - February 18, 2024 07:59 pm IST - Kolkata

Ministers Partha Bhowmick, Sujit Bose and Birbaha Hansda visited Sandeshkhali on February 18 to "speak to people about their grievances". They visited Kalinagar village to speak to the residents about their grievances. Sandeshkhali's MLA Sukumar Mahata, from Trinamool Congress, accompanied them.

The land department also opened camps to register the complaints of villagers about alleged land grabbing by some people owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress.

"We have come to speak to the people and the local party leadership here," Mr. Bose told reporters. He said that they were visiting places where prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have not been imposed.

Opposition party leaders, including Union Ministers who came as part of a BJP team, were stopped from visiting Sandeshkhali by the administration. Prohibitory orders on congregations of five or more people are in place in 19 places in Sandeshkhali.

Villages in Sandeshkhali have witnessed protests over allegations of sexual atrocities on women and land grabbing since the first week of February.

Mr. Bose claimed that allegations have come from a few places in Sandeshkhali, which has 16 panchayat areas. "We are not trying to muzzle anyone's voice, the accused persons have been arrested," he said.

Local TMC leaders Shibaprasad Hazra, alias Shibu, and Uttam Sardar have been arrested by the police over the allegations.

IPC sections of gangrape and attempt to murder were added against the two, along with other charges, following a statement by an alleged survivor before a magistrate. While Mr. Sardar was arrested over a week ago, Mr. Hazra was arrested on Saturday after these sections were added.

Alleging that TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan was the kingpin of the atrocities against the villagers, the opposition parties in the state are demanding that he be arrested by the police. The police have arrested former CPI(M) MLA of Sandeshkhali, Nirapada Sardar, and local BJP leader Bikash Singh, for allegedly instigating some violent protests by villagers in Sandeshkhali.

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