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Did Trinamool men call women for late-night meets, sexually harass them in Bengal’s Sandeshkhali?

Tensions are simmering in West Bengal after a number of ladies in Sandeshkhali village final week accused Trinamool Congress (TMC) strongmen of sexual harassment. The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Celebration (BJP) has attacked the ruling social gathering over the allegations of sexual exploitation and land seize towards native TMC leaders.

The police have imposed prohibitory orders in some elements of Sandeshkhali. An enormous police contingent has been deployed in and across the space to cease the BJP and different Opposition leaders from getting into the village. The Calcutta Excessive Court docket has taken cognisance of claims of sexual assault on ladies.

What is going on in Sandeshkhali? What has the Opposition alleged? What have the West Bengal authorities and police performed for the reason that incident got here to gentle? Let’s perceive.

Sandeshkhali sexual harassment claims

Locals, principally ladies, in Sandeshkhali, a village in North 24 Parganas district, have been protesting since 8 February towards the alleged atrocities by TMC chief Sheikh Shahjahan and his two aides, Uttam Sardar and Shibaparasd Hazra.

The scenario got here to gentle after a video of a lady narrating the ordeal went viral. “The party [Trinamool] men would come and survey a home that has a beautiful wife, whose girl is young. Then they take the women to the party office. Nights after night, they would be kept there… till they were satisfied,” the lady accused within the video, as per Enterprise Commonplace.

Native ladies have accused Shahjahan and his aides of assaulting and exploiting them for years. They mentioned they had been summoned to resorts, social gathering places of work or faculty buildings below the pretext of late-night conferences.

Ladies instructed Indian Categorical that they’d been quiet until now because of the concern of Shahjahan who has appreciable affect within the space. The TMC chief has been on the run for the reason that Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided his residence final month in an alleged ration rip-off.

A lady in her 20s, who additionally allegedly confronted molestation, instructed the English each day that the victims had been “TMC supporters” and members of self-help teams (SHG) that run below the panchayat.

Talking to Indian Categorical, one other girl mentioned, “They used to call us for meetings – sometimes of the SHG and sometimes of the party. Our husbands were not called. When we went there, there was a quick ‘party meeting’ saying we will have to work for its victory. Some of us cooked and a section of women, including me, were told to stay back. They would pull my saree and touch me inappropriately. I kept quiet because I knew what would have happened if I protested.”

She claimed her household’s bigha of land was additionally grabbed by TMC leaders and transformed right into a fishery.

Because the protests broke out final week, villagers carrying sticks and bamboo set Uttam Sardar’s poultry farm on fireplace. The properties of the opposite accused, Hazra, had been additionally set ablaze. The demonstrations continued for the seventh day in a row on Wednesday with a lot of ladies taking to the streets, demanding the arrest of Sheikh Shajahan and his aides.

The West Bengal police mentioned on Wednesday it imposed a curfew in 19 pockets of seven villages of Sandeshkhali block-II from Tuesday evening until 19 February. This got here a day after the Calcutta Excessive Court docket quashed the imposition of Part 144 of the Code of Legal Process (CrPC) throughout Sandeshkhali, saying such orders must be solely carried out in areas recognized as “troubled zone”.

BJP hits out at West Bengal authorities

The BJP has lambasted the ruling TMC over the allegations of sexual harassment.

Suvendu Adhikari, BJP’s Chief of Opposition in West Bengal, wrote on X on 11 February, “Sheikh Shahjahan and his gang established a ‘reign of terror’ where the dignity and modesty of women from the SC and ST communities have been repeatedly violated”.

On 13 February, BJP staff, led by the social gathering’s West Bengal chief, Sukanta Majumdar, clashed with the police exterior the workplace of the native Superintendent of Police in North 24 Parganas’ Basirhat after not being allowed to carry a protest towards the alleged sexual harassment. The police claimed the protesters pelted stones at them and several other cops had been injured, NDTV reported.

The police lathi-charged the protesters and fired tear gasoline shells to disperse them. BJP’s Majumdar claimed the police used batons first.

The BJP has demanded an announcement from West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sandeshkhali. BJP chief Adhikari has plans to go to the realm immediately.

BJP president JP Nadda has additionally fashioned a six-member committee of social gathering MPs who will go to Sandeshkhali on Friday.

Earlier on Monday, Union minister Smriti Irani attacked the West Bengal CM, claiming that Banerjee is “known for the genocide of Hindus”. “She will now allow her men to pick young married Hindu women to be raped in the TMC office… Who is this man who has been charged by the women of Sandeshkhali of the mass rape of Bengali Hindu women?… Till now everybody has been wondering who Sheikh Shahjahan is. Now, the question Mamata Banerjee has to answer is where is Sheikh Shahjahan?,” ANI quoted the Union Minister for Ladies & Youngster Growth as saying.

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia mentioned West Bengal has was a state run by a authorities of “rapists”.

“Bengal has turned into a state run by a government of rapists, by rapists, for rapists”.

“Questions will be asked from [Chief Minister] Mamata Banerjee: Why do you hate Hindus, tribals, and backward people? Your goons are exploiting people, and you are silent,” he reportedly mentioned.

What have authorities mentioned?

A particular ten-member staff of girls cops led by IPS Soma Das Mitra visited the Sandeshkhali village on Tuesday. Nonetheless, no girl reportedly opened up about alleged sexual harassment earlier than the police.

“We assured full safety and security to all of them, but still not a single woman complained about sexual harassment. We have assured them full privacy to lodge complaints without any fear, but still, we couldn’t find a single complaint about sexual harassment,” police sources instructed India As we speak.

The sources mentioned their precedence is to “build confidence” among the many villagers so ladies can come as much as them and file complaints.

“We have formed a special team led by DIG CID (Soma Das Mitra) to speak to the women and investigate any complaints in connection with rape, sexual assault or molestation. The team will investigate if there are such complaints and take appropriate action,” Sumit Kumar, DIG, Barasat Vary, mentioned, as per the Indian Categorical report.

A molestation case has been filed towards Uttam Sardar and others. The TMC suspended Sardar, the social gathering’s North 24 Parganas zilla parishad member, on 12 February following his arrest, the report added.

On Wednesday evening, the West Bengal police denied reviews of allegations of rape of girls within the violence-hit village. “It is reiterated that no allegations about rape of women have so far been received during the enquiries since conducted by the State Women’s Commission, an all-women 10-member fact-finding team led by DIG CID, and also the district police. The representatives of the National Women’s Commission, following a recent visit to Sandeshkhali, have also corroborated this, saying that they did not receive any complaints of rape of local women during their enquiry. It is reiterated that all allegations and complaints received will be duly enquired into and lawful action will be initiated,” the police tweeted on X.

In the meantime, the ruling TMC has accused the BJP of attempting to “vitiate the atmosphere” of West Bengal.

“BJP leaders displayed their true colours by pelting stones at the police at the behest of Union Minister Smriti Irani, who spread misinformation and dished out provocative and divisive comments on Sandeshkhali,” the ruling social gathering mentioned, as per NDTV.

West Bengal minister Chandrima Bhattacharya additionally focused Irani over her remarks. “Rape has no religion. Crimes against women have no religion. Union Minister Smriti Irani held a press conference on Sandeshkhali with the sole intention of polarising the masses and pitting communities against each other. Do you want to ignite a communal riot in Bengal,” the TMC chief mentioned.

Bengal minister Birbaha Hansda mentioned CM Banerjee has assured culprits will probably be punished.

In the meantime, West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose, who visited Sandeshkhali on Monday and spoke to the protesters, mentioned in a report back to the Ministry of Dwelling Affairs that legislation enforcers had been in collusion with “rowdy elements”, PTI reported citing Raj Bhavan sources.

“I have taken stock of the matter through direct interaction with the victims and by making extensive field visits in Sandeshkhali island. In my considered opinion, the situation there is highly reprehensible,” he mentioned within the report.

The governor additionally accused the police of asking locals to make compromises as a substitute of submitting complaints towards the culprits whereas “goonda elements disguised as policemen trespass into the victims’ houses at night”.

Bose mentioned the native folks need a Particular Process Power or Particular Investigation Group to probe the allegations.

With inputs from companies

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