Prohibitory orders in Sandeshkhali after huge protests against TMC

KOLKATA: The Nandigram protests brought the Trinamool Congress to power in West Bengal 13 years ago. Now a similar stir is giving the TMC a wake up call. Since February 7 in North 24 Parganas’ Sandeshkhali, a massive assembly of women, mostly from Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes, with sticks and brooms, are protesting the alleged sexual assault and land grab by local TMC leaders.The main target of the protesters is TMC strongman Shahjahan Sheikh, who has gone underground for a month now. The protesters want him arrested and alleged that he is under police protection. “Shahjahan and his men, who used to be our tormentors, have been absconding for the past one month, ever since the attack on the Enforcement Directorate officers. So, we mustered courage to narrate our plight,” said Minati Sardar, one of the protesters. The protest slowly snowballed into a violent one: they set fire to business outlets of local TMC leaders, which they say was set up on their lands. Later the villagers set fire to a poultry shop and ransacked liquor shop of local TMC leader Shibaprasad Hazra. Apprehending that the situation could go out of control, the district administration clamped Section 144 of CrPC and suspended internet services for an indefinite period in four panchayat areas in Sandeshkhali. A senior TMC leader admitted that the scale of the Sandeshkhali agitation is unprecedented ever since the party came to power. BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar sought Home Minister Amit Shah’s intervention to “save the tribals”. The National Commission for SCs, too, sought a report from the state government within three days.

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