Hand over Sheikh Shahjahan to CBI today: Calcutta HC tells police

The TMC leader was arrested by the police on the night of February 28 after being on the run for 55 days.

Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered the Bengal police to hand over the main accused in the Sandeshkhali violence Sheikh Shahjahan to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), at latest by 4:30 pm.

The Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan is accused of rape, land grabbing and extortion.

The incident came to light on January 5 when officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), who had come to raid the TMC leader’s premises, were attacked by armed men.

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Sheikh was reported absconding. On February 7, local women staged a protest outside the Sandeshkhali police station demanding action against Sheikh and his accomplices. Angry villagers set nearby houses on fire. Fifteen people were arrested, police said.

“Sheikh, Sardar and Hazra often used to ask the women to attend party meetings at the drop of a hat and even at night. Many women were asked to stay till 2 am. They had no other option but to agree as the police did not take any action against the TMC leaders,” a woman alleged.

The incident created shockwaves in the West Bengal political area where the Opposition BJP party called out the impotency attitude of the ruling TMC government. Protests followed leading to arrests of BJP leaders.

Meanwhile, the Vishva Hindu Parishad slammed the Mamata Banerjee-led government and suggested that the Centre should consider imposing the President’s Rule in the state.

The VHP called the incident unfortunate and took a dig at chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who being a woman could not stop such an atrocious crime. “How unfortunate it is that the chief minister is a woman and she, instead of taking action against those involved in such cases, stops those who are going to meet the victims. Instead of holding Sheikh Shahjahan guilty, she is holding the officials and workers who are visiting there guilty,” the VHP said.

Shahjahan was finally arrested by the police on the night of February 28 after being on the run for 55 days.

Welcoming the high court order, BJP’s Rajya Sabha member Samik Bhattacharya said on Tuesday that this is a positive development considering the widespread fear that evidence might have been tampered with had Shahjahan remained in state police custody for long.

“This is a welcome verdict given the current role of the state police, which is restricted to just blindly following the directions of the ruling party and guarding the accused persons,” Bhattacharya said.

CBI to investigate ED attack

The Calcutta High Court also asked the CBI to investigate the attack on ED and CAPF teams at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district on January 5.

A division bench of Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya was hearing a plea moved by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seeking an independent CBI probe into the matter after reserving its judgement on Monday.

Initially, the single-judge bench of Justice Jay Sengupta had ordered a probe into the attack on ED and CAPF teams in Sandeshkhali on January 5.

However, the ED had challenged the order and demanded that the probe be independently handled by the CBI. At that point of time, the division bench had put an interim stay on the formation and probe by a joint SIT.

(With IANS inputs)

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