Bengal Governor arrives in Sandeshkhali, women allege molestation by Trinamool leaders

Governor promises to take action on every perpetrator

Updated - February 12, 2024 08:12 pm IST

Published - February 12, 2024 04:40 pm IST - Kolkata

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose. File

West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A situation of unrest persisted at Sandeshkhali as several women from the area on Monday placed before the visiting Governor, C.V. Ananda Bose, allegations of molestation by Trinamool Congress members.

The women alleged atrocities by the local Trinamool leadership, including the absconding Sheikh Sahajahan. They expressed fear in being subjected to more torture when the Governor left after his visit, if the local leaders were not arrested.

The women had also put up posters against the police; some of them demanded the deployment of Central forces.

“I am not here only as the Governor but also as your brother. It is the duty of the brother to ensure protection to sisters,” Mr. Bose said. He had cut short his visit to Kerala and arrived in Kolkata on Monday, going straight to Sandeshkhali in the North 24 Parganas district.

Describing the developments in the remote island as “shameful”, the Governor assured action against the perpetrators of atrocities on the women. “We will ensure that honour and dignity of the women are restored and violators are brought to book,” Mr. Bose told journalists at Sandeshkhali.

“What I saw was ghastly, shocking, shattering to my senses. I saw something which I should never have seen; I heard many things which I should never have heard,” he said.

The West Bengal Police have set up a ten-member committee for the women to lodge their complaints. Meanwhile, they ruled out any communal angle to the allegations.

Also Read | Sandeshkhali block in West Bengal on the boil, villagers set fire to properties of Trinamool leaders

BJP MLAs stopped en route to Sandheshkhali

During the day, 67 MLAs of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — led by Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari — were stopped on the way to Sandeshkhali. They left the State Assembly in a bus but were stopped near Science City under the jurisdiction of Kolkata Police; the MLAs remained in the vehicle for more than three hours.

Mr. Adhikari said that the police had no authority to stop them 65 km away from Sandeshkhali. The MLAs planned to set out to Sandeshkhali again on February 15.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that those behind the violence have been arrested.

“Anyone can go to Sandeshkhali. We have no issues with that. We have already sent the State women’s commission team there. They returned and submitted a report. Those who have instigated violence have been arrested. The situation is being monitored closely and necessary steps are being taken,” she told media persons.

A Trinamool Congress delegation was likely to visit Sandeshkhali on Tuesday but party leaders said that they would avoid areas where prohibitory orders were in place.

Also Read | Prohibitory orders at Sandeshkhali, Trinamool suspends party leader

Mass allegations

The deterioration of the law and order situation at Sandeshkhali came to the fore on January 5, when officers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) were attacked by a mob after they attempted to search the residence of Mr. Shahjahan in connection with a public distribution system scam. Thereafter, over the past week, women in the region took to the streets and attacked properties of local Trinamool leaders.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been imposed in the area and over a dozen persons have been arrested, including local Trinamool leader Uttam Sardar and former CPI(M) MLA of Sandeshkhali Nirapada Sardar.

The developments at Sandeshkhali also created ripples in Delhi with Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani targeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee over the allegations made by women. The Union Minister, at a press conference in Delhi, translated from Bengali to Hindi the allegations made by women at Sandeshkhali. Citing details of the allegations Ms. Irani said that Mr. Shahjahan and his aides would pick up “young married women and rape them at night at Trinamool Congress party office”.

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