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BJP, Cong leaders stopped from going to Sandeshkhali

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: February 16, 2024 22:42 IST
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Senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress were stopped by police on Friday from visiting the trouble-torn Sandeshkhali, escalating the political tensions in the state as the leaders accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of fostering a 'lawless situation' and attempting to 'communalise' the issue.

IMAGE: BJP MLA Agnimitra Paul with other five-member party delegation being barred by the police at Rampur on their way to Sandeshkhali to meet the victims, in North 24 Parganas on Friday, February 16, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

In New Delhi, the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) chief Arun Halder said the panel has recommended the imposition of President's rule in West Bengal in its report submitted to President Droupadi Murmu on alleged harassment of women by Trinamool Congress supporters in Sandeshkhali, a day after a team from the Commission visited the area.


Sandeshkhali, a village in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, has been witnessing protests over alleged atrocities, including sexual abuse, by some TMC leaders against villagers and has triggered a fierce political blame game with the senior leaders of the Congress, which is part of the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party opposition's Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) along with TMC at the national level, joining others to criticise the Mamata Banerjee government over the issue.

A delegation from the BJP, led by Union Ministers Pratima Bhoumik and Annapurna Devi, was stopped by the police at Rampur village on their route to the Sandeshkhali block, evoking a sharp reaction as the ministers accused the TMC of instigating lawlessness.

Later, they met West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose over the situation in Sandeshkhali.

A Congress team led by state president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was also stopped from visiting Sandeshkhali.

After a confrontation with the police, Chowdhury accused Banerjee of 'politicising and communalising' the issue.

"Police stopped the BJP central team from visiting unrest-hit Sandeshkhali. Police cited prohibitory orders. We said only four of us would go, but we were not permitted," Union Minister Annapurna Devi, the convenor of the team, told reporters.

After being stopped at Rampur village, the six-member delegation of the saffron party sat on a dharna.

Bhoumik, the Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, also alleged that police were 'trying to protect the culprits' and criticised their handling of the situation.

"We are Union ministers and MPs, and there are certain protocols. The state police and the administration are not bothered about those protocols. Had police shown similar promptness in arresting Shahjahan Sheikh, the situation would have been different," Annapurna Devi said.

The BJP's fact-finding team was prevented from visiting Sandeshkhali under Section 144, leading them to propose sending only two women representatives to the area. However, this request was also denied, she added.

"Are we criminals that we have been stopped from entering the area," BJP state general secretary Agnimitra Paul asked.

BJP president J P Nadda had constituted a six-member committee of party MPs to investigate the situation in Sandeshkhali.

Besides Devi and Bhoumik, the other members are Sunita Duggal, Kavita Patidar, Sangeeta Yadav, and Brij Lal.

Questioning the rationale behind denying access to opposition parties, Bengal Congress chief Chowdhury asked: "Why are opposition parties being prevented from entering Sandeshkhali. What is the state government trying to hide? Why are they trying to politicise it."

His criticism came amidst Banerjee's allegations implicating the saffron camp in inciting unrest in the area.

Responding to Banerjee's claim that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has a presence in Sandeshkhali, Chowdhury questioned the relevance of the RSS in the ongoing disturbances.

"What connection does the RSS have with the disturbances in Sandeshkhali? Are Uttam Sardar or Shibu Hazra, Hindus or Muslims," he asked.

On the BJP delegation being stopped, the ruling TMC accused the saffron party of trying to "vitiate the atmosphere of the state".

"Police did the right thing by stopping the BJP delegation. It intends to vitiate the atmosphere of the state. When the administration is doing everything to restore peace, the BJP is trying to disturb that for political gains," TMC leader Santanu Sen claimed.

He also hit out at Chowdhury and dubbed the 'Bengal Congress as the B-team of the BJP'.

A large number of women in Sandeshkhali 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.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
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