Kerala Kaumudi Online
Saturday, 18 May 2024 6.19 PM IST

CBI probe in Sandeshkhali case


Trinamool Congress leaders and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tried to cover up the violence in Sandeshkhali by claiming that it was a local incident. The Trinamool Party had explained that the land allegedly seized from the farmers had been returned to farmers and that the police had arrested the culprits. Mamata Banerjee also alleged that the BJP was trying to make this a big issue. The atrocities in Sandeshkhali started garnering national attention from last February. It became a topic of discussion across India when a group of women in Sandeshkhali alleged that TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides sexually assaulted them multiple times after they alleged that the Trinamool leaders seized thousands of acres of their agricultural land for fish farming.

The Trinamool Congress was on the defensive politically when Prime Minister Modi said that the entire country saw that the Trinamool Congress-led government tried to save the criminals in Sandeshkhali. The police, court and others intervened after a woman named Rekha Patra, a native of Sandeshkhali, came to the fore revealing the tortures that took place there. Governor Ananda Bose's interventions also forced the government to take action against the culprits. Following this, the police arrested Sheikh Shahjahan, who had been in hiding for two months. While hearing a Public Interest Litigation related to Sandeshkhali, a division bench of the Calcutta High Court opined that if even one percent of the allegations were found to be true, it would be an embarrassment to the entire country. The court also pointed out that the district administration and the government cannot avoid the moral responsibility of this.

There were cries from various centres seeking a CBI probe into the incident. They alleged that the investigation agencies under the control of the state government would only try to sabotage the case and protect the culprits. As a result of such demands and controversies, the Calcutta High Court decided to hand over cases, including sexual assault and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali, to the CBI. This is a very welcome step.

As the investigation will be conducted under the supervision of the court, the possibility of external interference will be eliminated. The court also directed the state government to provide support to complete the investigation in a speedy and impartial manner. The court passed this order after hearing a petition filed by a group of women against Trinamool leaders, including Sheikh Shahjahan. The court has also asked the CBI to set up a portal for people to file complaints. The court said this considering the safety of the victims and eyewitnesses in the case. The CBI will also have to submit a comprehensive report to the court on the conversion of agricultural land into illegal fish farming centres. CBI inquiry in Sandeshkhali once again demonstrates that persecuting and exploiting weaker people anywhere in the nation will have consequences.

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