A fact-finding team, comprising a former judge, a bureaucrat and members of civil society on Sunday visited some of the villages in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali and met several people who have accused local former TMC leaders, including Sheikh Shahjahan, of sexual atrocities and land grab.

After the meeting, a member of the team, Raj Pal Singh, said that as many as 11 people were still threatening the locals despite the arrest of Shahjahan in connection with the case.

“We have a list of 11 other people who are constantly threatening women despite the arrest of some. I have their details with me,’ Singh said while speaking to the media.

Another member of the team, Justice L Narasimha Reddy, alleged that the local administration was protecting Shahjahan from arrest.

“Each passing day, more facts are coming out. After HC intervention, Sheikh Shahjahan was arrested. He was walking like a hero even after his arrest. It shows he was protected by the state and its police,” Justice Reddy said.

He further added that a report of their findings will be submitted to President Droupadi Murmu, Union Home Ministry and state Governor CV Ananda Bose.

“We have already submitted an interim report to the Governor of West Bengal. We will submit our final report to the President of India, (Union) Home Ministry. And to the Chief Minister of West Bengal if she agrees to accept our report,” he added.

After the visit of the fact-finding team, India Today TV spoke to a few women who had presented themselves and handed their complaint letters related to land grabs and other incidents.

The women also demanded police protection for themselves and strict punishment for Shahjahan and the other accused in the case.

“I came here with this complaint-letter about a land grab. We want protection. As they (fact-finding team) have come from Delhi. Till now, I was in fear of Shah Jahan. Now that he has been arrested, I think I could register my complaint, which may help me to get back my land,” a woman said while speaking to India Today.

“We want Shahjahan to get a higher punishment or else, he will resume his atrocities on us once he is free from jail. We are still in fear as some are threatening us,” another woman said while speaking to India Today TV.

Sandeshkhali village in West Bengal’s 24 North Parganas district has been at the centre of a political storm after multiple women came out with allegations of systemic sexual exploitation and land grab against Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides.

Published By:

Sudeep Lavania

Published On:

Mar 3, 2024


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