Sandeshkhali violence: TMC slams BJP for attempt to create communal divide

Prohibitory orders were clamped on Tuesday in the vicinity of the SP's office in Bengal's Basirhat in view of a proposed agitation by the BJP.

Kolkata: Launching a scathing attack on Union Minister Smriti Irani for her remarks “genocide of Hindus” in Bengal, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leadership accused the BJP of attempting to divide the state on communal lines.

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The BJP, on February 12, criticised West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, alleging that she is known for “genocide of Hindus” and is now allowing her party workers to sexually attack women.

The Union minister Smriti Irani had said in a press conference in New Delhi, “Mamata Banerjee is known for the genocide of Hindus. She will now allow her men to pick young married Hindu women to be raped in the TMC office… Who is this man who has been charged by the women of Sandeshkhali of the mass rape of Bengali Hindu women?… Till now everybody has been wondering who is Sheikh Shahjahan. Now, the question Mamata Banerjee has to answer is – where is Sheikh Shahjahan?”

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The strongly worded attack from Irani came following allegations by a group of women in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district that TMC local strongman Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters captured swathes of land by force and sexually assaulted them.

The TMC accused the BJP of pursuing a consistent agenda of dividing Bengal along the lines of religion and stoking communal tension. Addressing a press conference, Hansda said, “Bengal’s women will reject the attempt to divide them.”

Senior TMC leader and Minister Chandrima Bhattacharya wondered why Irani was silent over the instances of violence against women in BJP-ruled double-engine states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Madhya Pradesh.

Section 144 imposed over BJP agitation

Prohibitory orders were clamped on Tuesday, February 13, in the vicinity of the SP’s office in West Bengal’s Basirhat in view of a proposed agitation programme by the BJP over allegations of sexual harassment by women in Sandeshkhali block.

The orders were enforced under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) from 6 am and 6 pm to maintain law and order, officials said.

A large number of police personnel have also been deployed outside the SP’s office in Basirhat to prevent any untoward incident, they said.

Sandeshkhali is under the purview of the Basirhat police district.

The state BJP had announced its leaders will gherao the SP office on Tuesday in protest against the situation in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district.

Police assure Sandeshkhali women of safety

West Bengal Police has received only four complaints from people in violence-hit Sandeshkhali, but none of them mentioned rape or sexual harassment, a senior officer said.

“We have received four complaints and none of them mentioned rape or any communal angle. This is very important,” the officer added. He added that an SP-rank woman officer had already visited houses and talked to women.

Stating that a 10-member team under a DIG-rank woman officer was constituted to investigate incidents of violence there, the officer assured the women of total safety and urged them to approach police in if they wanted to file complaints.

“The state is very concerned about the issue. I will request women to approach police if they have any issues or complaints and we will take strong legal actions,” he said.

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