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Sandeshkhali Case: SC Pauses Parliament Panel Probe Against Bengal Officers, Mamata Says BJP Exaggerating Issue

Sandeshkhali Case: A large number of women in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali accused TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his aides of ‘land grab and sexually assaulting’ them under coercion.

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PTI
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee | Photo: PTI
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The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the Lok Sabha notices issued to the West Bengal chief secretary, DGP and others over a complaint of "misconduct" filed against them by BJP MP Sukanta Majumdar.

Sukanta Majumdar had sustained injuries last week as BJP workers clashed with police personnel after being stopped from going to violence-hit Sandeshkhali in West Bengal.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices JB Pardiwla and Manoj Misra took note of the submissions of senior advocates Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the state officials, and stayed the notices issued seeking their presence at 10.30 am on Monday.

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Meanwhile, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee has accused BJP of making a "mountain of a molehill" over the Sandeshkhali issue. West Bengal CM Banerjee has also said the incident was "made to happen".

On Monday, BJP’s Suvendu Adhikari was allowed to visit Sandeshkhali, as Calcutta High Court has warned him against giving provocative speeches.

A large number of women in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali accused TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his aides of "land grab and sexually assaulting" them under coercion.

Sheikh has been absconding after a mob, allegedly affiliated with him, attacked Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials who had gone to search his premises in connection with a ration scam on January 5.

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"One incident happened. It was made to happen. First, the ED went. Then its friend, the BJP, went there. Some media went along and they are making a mountain out of a molehill. They are trying to disrupt peace here and starting a fire," Banerjee reportedly said during an event in West Bengal.

Banerjee's comments came after TMC leader Shiba Prasad Hajra, one of the accused in the case, was remanded in police custody for eight days by a court in North 24 Parganas district on Sunday.

Sandeshkhali case so far:

West CM Banerjee said she was sending officers to Sandeshkhali to address the allegations of sexual assault and land grabbing by TMC leaders.

She said if anyone's land was taken, it would be returned.

"I have never supported injustice. No woman has filed an FIR. I told the police to register a case. Our block president was arrested. How many BJP leaders have been arrested in such cases?” she said.

The BJP hit back at Banerjee's allegations levelled by Banerjee and called them "baseless".

"The law and order has completely broken down in West Bengal. The truth is, the TMC and the state government officials, be it police or local administration, were hand in glove while committing atrocities on locals. This is the true picture of West Bengal," BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.

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A TMC delegation, including three ministers, visited Sandeshkhali following a week of protests alleging atrocities against villagers and sexual harassment of women by local TMC leaders, news agency PTI reported.

National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said she would visit Sandeshkhali on Monday and meet the women, police officials and West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose.

"As you know, very disturbing news has come from Sandeshkhali. I am going there and I want them (women) to get justice. I will meet the DG and the local police. I want to meet the women and assure them of my support. I will also be meeting the governor," she told news agency ANI.

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SC holds Parliament panel probe against West Bengal officers:

The Supreme Court has paused a Parliament Committee proceedings against top officers of the West Bengal government.

The Apex Court bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notices to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, and the Union Home Ministry, and sought their responses within four weeks.

Notices have also been issued to the West Bengal Director General of Police, the Chief Secretary, and the local District Magistrate.

The Privileges Committee of the Parliament had ordered the Chief Secretary, the DGP, the local District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police, and the local police station in-charge to appear before it on Monday. The notice was issued after Majumdar, an MP from Balurghat, filed a complaint alleging "misconduct, brutality and life-threatening injuries to him".

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Meanwhile, Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain PIL seeking court-monitored probe into violence in Sandeshkhali.

Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika, DGP Rajiv Kumar, and other officers while challenging the notice told the court that political activity can never be a breach of privilege, the reports stated.

Referring to Majumdar's complaint that he was injured during a clash with the cops when his delegation tried to enter Sandeshkhali, senior advocate Kapil Sibal pointed out that 38 state police officials - including eight women cops - also sustained injuries.

The petition filed by the officers argued Majumdar was demonstrating on the top of a police car when a woman member of his party pushed him and he fell on its bonnet. The police had no role in the incident which is evident in videos, they argued.

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"How can this be a violation of privilege of the Parliament? The MP violated Section 144. He jumped on the bonnet of a car and was inciting violence. The complaint is based on a completely wrong story," said Sibal.

He also pointed out that the DGP and the Chief Secretary were not even present at the site.

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