Sandeshkhali: Bengal DGP visits area; NHRC issues notice to state govt

The rights body has also issued notices to the State Chief Secretary and DGP calling for reports of incidents be submitted within 4 weeks.
Last Updated : 21 February 2024, 13:38 IST
Last Updated : 21 February 2024, 13:38 IST

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New Delhi/Kolkata: West Bengal's DGP Rajeev Kumar on Wednesday visited Sandeshkhali to evaluate the situation amidst protests over allegations of sexual abuse by TMC leaders, while the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the state government and police chief regarding ongoing violence in the area.

The NHRC also decided to "dispatch its team to verify facts through an on-site investigation" into the occurrences of "human rights violations" in Sandeshkhali, situated in the North 24 Parganas district, according to official sources.

During his first visit to the area since the commencement of protests earlier this month, the DGP accompanied by senior police officials, visited Sandeshkhali police station and conducted deliberations there.

"First, let me visit the area and then I will speak to you guys," Kumar told reporters.

He engaged in a series of discussions with police personnel and is scheduled to remain overnight in the riverine locale of Sandeshkhali.

Amid the prevailing tensions in Sandeshkhali, law enforcement maintained a robust presence as efforts towards restoring normalcy persisted.

The area, which has witnessed a succession of protests over the past weeks, experienced relative calmness, albeit with a women's sit-in protest against TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh for his purported remarks concerning the women of Sandeshkali during a televised discussion.

On Wednesday, the NHRC announced its intent to dispatch a fact-finding team for an on-site inquiry into the reported "human rights violations" in Sandeshkhali.

The NHRC has taken "suo motu cognisance of print and electronic media reports that in Sandeshkhali,... innocent and impoverished women have been harassed and sexually assaulted by a group of local gang of a political person, as a result of which, for last few days, local villagers have started protesting for appropriate legal action against the perpetrators of horrific crimes indulged by various goons and anti-social elements, when the local administration failed to take appropriate legal action against the perpetrators of crime."

Following visits by the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is scheduled to visit the strife-torn Sandeshkhali area on Thursday.

The NCW and NCSC had advocated imposition of President's rule in West Bengal.

Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is poised to release a documentary on Sandeshkhali on Thursday, intensifying its criticism of the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC government over alleged incidents of atrocities and sexual assaults on women in the region.

The BJP announced the forthcoming release of the "exclusive" documentary titled 'The Sandeshkhali Shocker: The Big Reveal' on Thursday at 9 am.

The party urged people to ask Banerjee "Didi ke bolo aaro koto 'Sandeshkhali' (Tell didi how many more Sandeshkhali like incidents)".

Banerjee is called didi (elder sister) by her followers.

In New Delhi, the BJP accused the Mamata Banerjee-led government of surpassing the former CPI(M) administration in subjecting the people of West Bengal to atrocities, asserting that the public would deliver a resounding response to the ruling TMC in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

"The Sandeshkhali issue is becoming very serious. The patent assault, humiliating treatment, sexual assault on a woman is a shame on our society and democracy," Senior BJP leader Ravi Shakar Prasad said at a press conference at the BJP headquarters.

In response to the BJP's allegations, the TMC charged the saffron party with fomenting unrest in the state.

"The BJP is attempting to disturb the peace in the state. They are endeavouring to communalize the situation in Sandeshkhali," stated TMC leader Kunal Ghosh.

A fresh complaint of gang rape was filed in Sandeshkhali by a local woman was filed today.

The police so far have arrested 18 people for alleged involvement in some violent protests at Sandeshkhali in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.

A large number of women in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district had accused Trinamool Congress strongman Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of "land-grab and sexually assaulting" them under coercion.

Shajahan has been absconding after a mob, allegedly affiliated with him, attacked Enforcement Directorate officials who had gone to search his premises in connection with a ration scam on January 5.

Published 21 February 2024, 13:38 IST

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