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Police stop BJP delegation from visiting Sandeshkhali, leaders protest on highway

Many men are being put behind bars on trumped up charges while their wives are being taken to the police station after midnight

Police stop BJP delegation from visiting Sandeshkhali, leaders protest on highway

BJP delegation on way to Sandeshkhali stopped at Minakhan (Photo/ANI)

NORTH 24 PARGANAS: As Sandeshkhali continues to boil even after the arrest of key-accused Shahjahan Sheikh, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation which was on its way to Sandeshkhali was stopped by security forces at North 24 Parganas' Minakhan on Monday. A BJP team consisting of 15 people, including state BJP's ST Morcha President Joyel Murmu, left for Sandeshkhali from Kolkata to talk to the tribal community in the conflict-ridden Sandeshkhali area. The police stopped them with a barricade on the Kolkata Basanti Highway near Malancha in Minakhan.

Even after some talks with police personnel, the delegation was not allowed to move forward. Hence the BJP leaders started protesting by sitting on the Kolkata Basanti Highway. Pointing out the duplicity in treatment by the police, Joyel Murmu claimed that while a Trinamool meeting is underway in Sandeshkhali, they are being stopped by the police by enforcing Section 144.

"They have enforced Section 144 for us. Trinamool meeting is going on in Sandeshkhali where Section 144 was in force.

Leaders and Ministers are visiting the place. But for us, they have enforced Section 144," Murmu said. Highlighting the importance of their visit, Murmu added, "There are adivasis, dalit families there (Sandeshkhali). Students could not take the Madhyamik (Class 10) examination there. There was Class 12 exam as well. Adivasi students did not take the exam. They want us to come here. They are complaining that the Trinamool has confiscated their land. That is why we are visiting Sandeshkhali but police stopped us on the way," the ST leader said.

After protesting for some time, the delegation returned to Calcutta. The leaders also asserted that they would be coming to the Sandeshkhali area shortly. Earlier on Sunday, the Centre's independent fact-finding team visited the troubled North 24 Parganas island. Speaking to ANI on the sidelines of their visit to Sandeshkhali on Sunday, a member of the independent fact-finding team labelled the prevailing situation on the island as 'horrifying'.

"In two separate cases, 185 people were falsely implicated for burning down poultry farms as they or their wives had dared to raise their voices (against Shahjahan Sheikh and his henchmen). They were deliberately victimised for coming out against the ruling party. Thankfully, however, they have now been released. The situation here is horrifying. I have seldom sensed such a palpable ambience of terror anywhere else in the country," a member of the fact-finding committee told ANI.

Claiming that the TMC strongman was still running writ in Sandeshkhali through fear, the member added, "One person is still ruling this island as the undisputed boss and threatening locals. The families, including those that dared to speak up against the TMC and Shahjahan Sheikh, are broken and shattered.

Many men are being put behind bars on trumped up charges while their wives are being taken to the police station after midnight. Even their land have been snatched away. If a shopkeeper does not pay Rs 20,000-25,000 (in cut money or commission) per month, then his shop is seized. In one case, illegal structures were raised on a snatched piece of land with money that was collected in this manner. The plot was sold off thereafter. Such incidents tell us a lot about the state of affairs here and should serve as an eye-opener."

"We should commend the women here for summoning the courage to rise against the excesses perpetrated on them," the member added. Sandeshkhali came to a boil and hit national headlines after hundreds of women on the island came out on the streets against Shahjahan Sheikh, accusing him of perpetrating sexual abuse and other excesses on them along with his henchmen.

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