Bengal BJP Chief In Hospital After Clash With Cops On Way To Sandeshkhali

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Bengal BJP Chief In Hospital After Clash With Cops On Way To Sandeshkhali

Sandeshkhali:

Dramatic scenes played out in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali this afternoon as BJP workers clashed with cops in their attempt to visit women who have accused Trinamool Congress leaders of sexual abuse. State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar was rushed to a hospital after he fainted during a scuffle with cops.

Mr Majumdar has been camping in the area after Sandeshkali, an area in the North 24 Parganas, made headlines owing to shocking allegations by local women against Trinamool strongman Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides. Shahjahan is on the run for a month now after an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team, which raided his home in a ration scam case, came under a mob attack.

The state BJP chief and other party workers held a sit-in protest outside the police superintendent’s office in Basirhat, demanding that they be allowed to visit Sandeshkhali. The local administration has imposed prohibitory orders in the area, flagging concerns of a breach of peace.

This morning, Mr Majumdar alleged that he had been put under “house arrest”. “I decided to stay at a lodge in Taki so that I could easily visit Sandeshkhali. But this morning, police blocked the entrance of the lodge and are not allowing me to step out,” news agency PTI quoted him as saying.

“In Sandeshkhali, TMC workers have been raping women for months now – Sheikh Shahjahan, Shibu Hajra and Uttam Sardar are raping them. We had come to the SP peacefully with the demand to arrest them. If they do not arrest them, how will the women in Sandeshkhali gain confidence?” Mr Majumdar said yesterday.

Earlier, Union Minister Smriti Irani had accused the Mamata Banerjee government of shielding the local strongman. “You (Ms Banerjee) have traded the dignity of SC/ST, fishermen families and the farming communities and their women for your political benefit,” she had said.

The ruling Trinamool has trashed the allegations and accused the BJP of instigating violence. Party spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said, “The allegations are baseless. The BJP is trying to vitiate the atmosphere of the area. They want to disturb the law and order situation.”

The Trinamool pointed to visuals of stone-pelting in the area and alleged that Ms Irani’s “provocative comments” prompted BJP workers to target the cops.

“It was a well-planned conspiracy by the BJP to create unrest in Sandeshkhali. Yesterday, Smriti Irani made provocative comments in her press release from Delhi and today, on her instructions, Sukanta Majumdar-led workers and supporters of the BJP pelted stones at the police personnel,” minister Shashi Panja said in a video message.

In allegations that have shocked the country, a group of women from Sandeshkhali have alleged that Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides sexually harass them and repeatedly ask them to visit the party office.  There are also allegations of land grab by local Trinamool leaders. 

There is an uneasy calm in Sandeshkhali. Senior police officer Sumit Kumar said the situation is under control. “Section 144 was imposed in around 19 places yesterday. The public is cooperating with us and we hope everything will be normal. The state government wants to establish peace in the area, extra force has been deployed,” he said.

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