Sandeshkhali on the boil again over allegations of a woman’s abduction

A woman who has been at the forefront of protests against the TMC leadership said she was abducted by three persons from outside her residence; she lodged a complaint at the Sandeshkhali Police Station

Updated - May 16, 2024 09:39 pm IST

Published - May 16, 2024 04:30 pm IST - Kolkata

File picture of women holding posters staging a protest demanding the arrest of local TMC leaders over Sandeshkhali incident allegations

File picture of women holding posters staging a protest demanding the arrest of local TMC leaders over Sandeshkhali incident allegations | Photo Credit: PTI

Two weeks before Sandeshkhali goes to the polls, tension prevailed in the riverine area in West Bengal on Thursday, with a woman alleging abduction based on the instructions of a Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader. The woman, a local who has been forefront of protests against the TMC leadership, said that she was abducted by three persons from outside her residence. A complaint was lodged by her at the Sandeshkhali Police Station.

The woman said that she was threatened to not approach the police and the courts, and to say that she was asked by the BJP to file a false complaint, and that the alleged incidents of atrocities against women in Sandeshkhali by local TMC leaders were “false”. The region has been on the boil since February 2024, after allegations of land grab and sexual assault directed at local TMC leaders surfaced.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal. File

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal. File | Photo Credit: PTI

Over the past few weeks, the TMC leadership, including Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, has been claiming on the basis of certain purported videos on social media that the ‘entire Sandeshkhali controversy’ was a “conspiracy by the BJP”.

In one such video, a local BJP leader of Sandeshkhali was heard saying that the protests by women were “staged” at the behest of the Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, Suvendu Adhikari, who was behind the “whole conspiracy”. In another video, a section of the women, who had earlier filed rape complaints, claimed that they were made to sign a blank paper by the BJP leaders and coerced to go to the police station.

On Thursday, BJP leader and lawyer Priyanka Tibrewal posted a video on social media, where a woman was heard saying that she was gagged and dragged out of her house when she went outside after hearing dogs barking.

“Today I visited Sandeshkhali, where TMC goons, are threatening the people to prove Sk. Shahjahan is innocent. One woman.... told me about the atrocities of Dilip Mallickw who few days ago abducted a woman, Following this complaint, today evening, TMC goons abducted her threw her tied beside a pond and left her to die. WE took her to the Police Station,” Ms. Tibrewal posted on social media platform X.

The allegations of land grab and sexual assault at Sandeshkhali have emerged as the rallying point of the ongoing Lok Sabha election for both the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Trinamool Congress. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee keep referring to Sandeshkhali at every public rally and the political rhetoric around the issue has raised the political temperature in the State.

Gangopadhyay targeted

In another development, the TMC leadership in West Bengal targeted the BJP candidate from the Tamluk Lok Sabha seat and former Calcutta High Court Judge Abhijit Gangopadhyay for sexist remarks directed at Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“Smt. @Chandrimaaitc vehemently condemned @Abhijit_G4WB’s audacity to put a monetary value on our Jononetri, crossing all limits of decency. Such disrespect towards women can only be expected from the Nari-Birodhi Party, which harbours rapists and molesters. Such MISOGYNISTIC individuals have no right to represent the people!” the TMC posted on social media, with a video of State Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya targeting the BJP leader.

BJP worker killed

In another development, a BJP worker who was actively engaged in the party’s poll campaign was found dead in West Bengal’s Purba Bardhaman district on Thursday.

The BJP alleged that he was killed by the “goons” backed by the ruling TMC, a charge rejected by the State’s ruling party. The body of Abhijit Roy, the BJP’s booth president in Jamna in the Monteswar Police Station area, was found hanging near a farmhouse. He had been missing since Wednesday night. The region witnessed political violence during the recently concluded polls on the Bardhaman Durgapur seat in the fourth phase on May 13.

Also Read: Watch | Explained: What led to the violence in Sandeshkhali?

“Abhijit Roy was receiving threats from TMC goons for the last few days. It is the TMC that has killed him. We want a thorough investigation and want the culprits to be punished.” BJP State president Sukanta Majumdar said.

Polling in 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal has concluded, and the remaining 24 seats will go the polls in the remaining three phases.

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