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Bengal: Sandeshkhali Women Narrate Tales of Agony to CPI(M) Leader Brinda Karat

Angry women told the AIDWA team they wanted ‘death penalty” for the “history sheeter TMC trio” who tormented them.
Angry women told the AIDWA team they wanted ‘death penalty” for the “history sheeter TMC trio” who tormented them.

Kolkata: “We are at the receiving end of the state government's ire for speaking up against the TMC goons. Our threat level is very high. Didi, we don’t know what will happen to us later, but we will see to that that history sheeter TMC leaders SK Shahjahan, Uttam Sardar and Shibu Hazra do not get bail,” a weeping Tapai Sardar, 35, told CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat, who visited the area on Tuesday and met the affected women.

Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district has been on the boil for the last month or so, after Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials were “beaten up” while probing the rationing scam in the state.

Read Also: Bengal: Women in Sandeshkhali Narrate Stories of Alleged Sexual Assault by TMC Leaders, 2 Accused Absconding

Gradually, women of the area have started opening up before the media against “large-scale sexual exploitation” faced by them allegedly by some local heavyweight Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and cadres of the area.

Many of these stories came out after ED officials were beaten up when they went to arrest the local TMC leader, Shahjahan Sheikh, who is absconding, along with Zila Parishad member Shibu Hazra. Sheikh, Hazra and Uttam Sardar are the three names called out by the victims in the peripheral area of the Sundarbans. 

West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose, who visited Sandeshkhali, also witnessed the wrath of villagers.

As the horror stories started coming out, angry villagers reacted against the alleged harassers, whose businesses were vandalised. The villagers allegedly also destroyed a poultry farm and an animal husbandry farm belonging to Hazra and Sardar, respectively.

On Tuesday, Karat, accompanied by a team of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), including state secretary Kaninika Ghosh, state AIDWA president Jahanara Khan and former minister Rekha Goswami and others visited the area.

The visit was initially thwarted by the West Bengal police who cited Section 144 in the area despite the Calcutta High Court nullifying the decision to impose prohibitory orders in the Sandeshkhali police station area. Later, after spending two hours in Dhamakhali ferry ghat, the AIDWA leaders were allowed, rather they forced their way to Sandeshkhali.

The AIDWA team led by Karat, said in area after area they visited, they came across agonising tales of torture meted out to women, who came out in the open, shedding their fear.

In Natunpara near Kalagachia river, a woman named Aparna Dass narrated how her school-going daughter had been allegedly “trafficked” by these TMC leaders and their cronies. She said her daughter had not come home for the past six years.

"We want the death penalty for our torturers,” several women told the AIDWA team. They also narrated tales of how their arable land, which they had got as patta during the Left Front regime (prior to 2011), had been “forcibly taken over by TMC men, who used to come in hundreds wearing helmets and riding motorcycles and would threaten people of the area with dire consequences if they opened their mouths”.

Karat, who came across many women who were crying, later told the media that the “shadow of the Hathras (Uttar Pradesh rape case) tragedy looms over this place. (Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee's police are no different from Yogi Adityanath’s (UP Chief Minister) police. They connived with the history sheeter TMC leaders to keep the torturous assault on the women folk going and at the same time kept the economic embargo on the common people so that they do not protest, fearing loss of their lives and property.”

Karat said all these were serious offences and should be probed and the culprits must be brought to book immediately.

The “lackadaisical” attitude of the police, too, came under fire from the AIDWA leader, who said AIDWA demanded that the ‘trio history sheeters of the Sandeshkhali” should be punished, for which AIDWA would intensify protests.

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