Fact-finding team investigates Sandeshkhali controversy, uncovers ongoing threats to locals

The Sandeshkhali village in West Bengal's 24 North Parganas district has been embroiled in controversy following allegations of systemic sexual exploitation and land grabbing against TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan and associates.
The six-member team, representing the NGO 'Lawyers for Justice', commenced their investigation in Sandeshkhali on Sunday.
The six-member team, representing the NGO 'Lawyers for Justice', commenced their investigation in Sandeshkhali on Sunday.

New Delhi- Following the recent confrontation between the TMC government and Sandeshkhali residents, a central fact-finding committee made its way to the village. The locals, clamoring for the arrest of TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh, witnessed his apprehension after 55 days of evasion.

On Sunday morning, the team proceeded to Dhamakhali, where, after presenting the court order, they were required to submit written forms before embarking on a boat journey to Sandeshkhali.

Accompanied by retired IPS officer Rajpal Singh, former joint registrar Omprakash Vyas, lawyers Charu Wali Khanna and Bhavna Bajaj, and journalist Sanjeev Naik, the six-member team, representing the NGO 'Lawyers for Justice', commenced their investigation in Sandeshkhali.

Earlier attempts to visit the village on February 25 were thwarted by West Bengal police citing prohibitory orders. However, after discussions with West Bengal Governor C V Ananda Bose and subsequent court intervention, the team finally obtained permission to engage with local residents on March 3, under certain conditions.

This visit follows the team's prior excursion to Bengal in 2023, during which they interacted with BJP workers affected by post-poll violence.

The timing of their Sandeshkhali inquiry coincided with the lifting of section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure from 11 areas of the state, facilitating their entry into the village.

The six-member team, representing the NGO 'Lawyers for Justice', commenced their investigation in Sandeshkhali on Sunday.
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Following the meeting, team member Raj Pal Singh expressed concern that despite the arrest of Shahjahan in connection with the case, 11 individuals continue to threaten locals.

"We have identified 11 other individuals who are persistently intimidating women, despite some arrests. I have their details," Singh informed the media.

Another team member, Justice L Narasimha Reddy, accused the local administration of shielding Shahjahan from arrest, stating, "Each passing day reveals more facts.

Despite High Court intervention leading to Shahjahan's arrest, he strutted around like a hero, indicating state and police protection." Reddy mentioned that their findings would be submitted to President Droupadi Murmu, the Union Home Ministry, and state Governor CV Ananda Bose, with an interim report already provided to the West Bengal Governor.

India Today TV interviewed women who had submitted complaint letters regarding land grabs and other incidents, with demands for police protection and severe punishment for Shahjahan and his accomplices.

"I came here with a complaint letter about land grab, seeking protection. Since the fact-finding team from Delhi arrived, I felt empowered to register my complaint," one woman stated.

Another woman emphasized the need for strict punishment, fearing Shahjahan's return to violence once released from jail.

The Sandeshkhali village in West Bengal's 24 North Parganas district has been embroiled in controversy following allegations of systemic sexual exploitation and land grabbing against Sheikh Shahjahan and associates.

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