PM Modi today met a group of women from Sandeshkhali after a public rally in the district.

Barasat, West Bengal:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met a group of women from Sandeshkhali, where allegations of sexual abuse against TMC leaders have been levelled, and assured them of justice and security.

On the sidelines of a public meeting at Barasat in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district where Sandeshkhali is located, PM Modi met five women who charged suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his followers with sexually harassing them.

He described the women who have been protesting against the alleged atrocities as ‘Maa Durga’.

The rally, organised by the BJP’s Mahila Morcha, was themed Nari Shakti Vandan (celebrating women’s empowerment).

Scores of women who were headed to the rally venue from Sandeshkhali, however, failed to meet the Prime Minister on account of their vehicles being stopped by the police at multiple locations en route, resulting in delay in arrival.

These women, along with their accompanying BJP workers, were seen staging protests against the state administration at their stoppage points as well as at the meeting venue.

“After the public meeting, the prime minister met a few women from Sandeshkhali. The women spoke about the atrocities that were perpetrated on them,” BJP state general secretary Agnimitra Paul told Press Trust of India over phone.

“He called us Maa Durga and showered his respect for us when we went into his backstage enclosure to touch his feet and narrate our plight,” one of the victims told reporters.

The group representing the womenfolk of Sandeshkhali who were allegedly tormented and abused by Trinamool leader Shajahan Sheikh and his cohorts later said that the Prime Minister had assured them of all safety and security going forward.

BJP sources said the women turned emotional while narrating their ordeal to the PM who heard them patiently “like a father figure”. He understood their pain, party sources said.

“He asked our names and the names of the villages where we live. We revealed to him the names of the perpetrators of the crimes and told him about the insecurity we continue to live in. He told us not to worry and expressed his respect for the fight we have put up against those criminals,” a female Sandeshkhali resident stated after meeting PM Modi.

“We requested him to ensure that we get justice since we no longer have faith in the state administration. The PM, despite his busy schedule, gave us a patient hearing. We are hopeful about getting justice,” another women protestor said.

Earlier in the day, several buses in which women from Sandeshkhali were travelling to the PM’s rally were stopped at multiple places by the police citing “security protocol”, BJP leaders alleged.

The state BJP had made arrangements for the buses to transport the women, who were allegedly tortured by suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his aides, from Sandeshkhali to the rally venue, around 80 km away, and meet the PM.

“The buses were first stopped at the Biswa Bangla Gate in New Town, and then again at Airport Gate 1 on the way to Barasat, citing security protocol, while other vehicles were allowed. The police are trying to stop us from reaching the PM’s rally on time,” a BJP leader who was on one of the buses alleged.

Police, however, said that traffic movement on the stretch had to be restricted due to “security protocol” as the PM was to travel by that road after exiting from the NSC Bose International Airport.

“The traffic movement on the entire stretch was restricted due to security reasons. The buses reached the area when the PM’s convoy was about to arrive, and hence the movement was regulated for security reasons,” a police officer said.

He said once the convoy passed, the buses were allowed to move.

The women, however, were not convinced.

“The police deliberately stopped our buses at three points. They could identify us from the banners we had hung on the buses.

“We left our homes at 7 am, and still failed to reach the rally venue on time to meet the PM,” a disgruntled Sandeshkhali woman told PTI, claiming that they were trying to reach the rally venue in a convoy of about 20 buses.

PM Modi left Barasat at around 1:30 pm. Assuming the team reached the fag end of the meeting, simple math reveals that the contingent took more than six hours to reach the venue when, under normal circumstances, it shouldn’t have taken them more than three hours.

The riverine island of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district has been on the boil over allegations of sexual atrocities on women and land grabbing by suspended TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his associates.
 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



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