BJP will try to give Sandeshkhali issue communal colour: WB Cong chief

Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury charged the ruling Trinamool Congress with being unable to control the situation in Sandeshkhali

Kolkata: West Bengal Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Saturday alleged that the BJP would try to give the Sandeshkhali issue a communal colour and play divisive politics before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Chowdhury, also the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has planned three back-to-back visits to the state as the saffron camp wants to keep the Sandeshkhali issue alive.

He charged the ruling Trinamool Congress with being unable to control the situation in Sandeshkhali where local people accused TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of land grabbing and sexual assault.

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“The BJP would definitely try to give the (Sandeshkhali) incidents a communal colour. Modi will not let go of this golden opportunity of creating division (among the people). That is why he is coming to West Bengal thrice, thanks to the failure of the state government,” Chowdhury told reporters.

Modi will be in West Bengal on March 1 and 2 as part of his official programme and is expected to address a women’s rally on March 6 in North 24 Parganas district where restive Sandeshkhali is located.

Chowdhury claimed that the BJP and the TMC would be the only two parties which would benefit from divisive politics as NRC and CAA would be implemented.

“These will become issues before the election. There will be no talks on unemployment, poverty and farmers’ demands, but on communal division. We are heading towards a dangerous future,” he said.

The Congress MP also alleged that women of Sandeshkhali and other areas of Sundarbans are being trafficked.

Trafficking has gone up manifold after natural disasters hit the region which was aggravated by poverty and unemployment, he said.

“In the entire Sundarbans area of Bengal such as Sandeshkhali and Gosaba, the number of missing children, women and girls is going up alarmingly, especially after natural disasters like cyclones,” Chowdhury said.

He claimed that the number of missing women in the country has gone up by 6 per cent, while in West Bengal the figure is 22 per cent. The Congress leader, however, did not mention the time period of the increase. He said that the “trafficking” issue should also be seen as an additional problem of Sandeshkhali.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area, situated about 100 kilometres from Kolkata on the borders of the Sunderbans, has been witnessing protests since the first week of February over allegations of sexual atrocities and land grabs by local TMC leaders.

One of the key accused Shahjahan Sheikh has been evading authorities since a mob attack on Enforcement Directorate officials, who had gone to search his premises in Sandeshkhali in connection with a corruption case, on January 5.

Shiba Prasad Hajra and Uttam Sardar, considered close associates of Sheikh, were, however, arrested.

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