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Sandeshkhali: NCST team reaches Bengal to probe sexual harassment complaints

The NCST inquiry comes amid a political uproar ahead of the Lok Sabha elections over alleged incidents of rape and harassment of women in Sandeshkhali.
Last Updated 21 February 2024, 18:24 IST

New Delhi: A three-member National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) team reached West Bengal Wednesday to investigate complaints of sexual harassment of tribal women in Sandeshkhali of North 24 Parganas district, sources said.

Led by Vice Chairperson Ananta Nayak, the team will also inquire into the complaints of tribal land grabbing by "people associated with the Trinamool Congress", a source told PTI.

The commission has also issued notices to the chief secretary of West Bengal and the state police head, asking them to submit factual and action taken reports within three days.

The NCST inquiry comes amid a political uproar ahead of the Lok Sabha elections over alleged incidents of rape and harassment of women in Sandeshkhali.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area, situated on the borders of the Sunderbans about 100 kilometres from Kolkata, has been witnessing protests after local women accused absconding Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his supporters of land grabbing and sexual assault under coercion.

"The commission has decided to investigate/inquire into the matter in pursuance of the powers conferred upon it under Article 338A of the Constitution of India. You are hereby requested to submit the facts and information on the action taken on the said allegations/matters to the undersigned within 3 days of receipt of this notice either by post, in person, or by any other means of communication," the NCST notice to the state's chief secretary and police head read.

The panel said it may exercise the powers of civil courts conferred on it under the Constitution and issue summons to the chief secretary and police head if they fail to submit reports within the stipulated time.

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(Published 21 February 2024, 18:24 IST)

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