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'State Can't Support It’: Calcutta HC Pulls Up Bengal Govt Over Absconding Sandeshkhali Accused

Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh has been accused of sexual assault and land grabbing by many women.

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Calcutta High Court warns Bengal on Sandeshkhali
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The Calcutta High Court strongly rebuked the West Bengal government on Tuesday on the Sandeshkhali violence, stating that the state must not back absconding Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh who has been accused of sexual assault and land grabbing by many women. 

Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam remarked the court had taken note of claims made by women on the island while hearing BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari's request for permission to visit Sandeshkhali. 

"We have seen the grievances, the women of the area have flagged issues, there has been some land grabbing. This person (Sheikh Shahjahan) cannot be on the run. The state cannot support it. In the suo motu matter, we will ask him to surrender here. He can't be defying law," the Chief Justice said.

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"If one person can hold the entire population to ransom, the ruling dispensation should not support him. He is just a representative of the public. He is bound to do good to the public," he added.

The court ruled that even after the attack on the ED personnel and despite many IPC crimes against him, the state police are unable to capture him. 

“Therefore, a larger view of the matter has to be taken by the state," the court said.

About The Case:

In Sandeshkhali, multiple women have raised allegations of systemic sexual exploitation and land grabbing against several leaders of the Trinamool Congress (TMC). The women have accused Sheikh Shahjahan, a member of the local Zila Parishad, as the prime culprit.

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These allegations surfaced after Sheikh Shahjahan went into hiding. In January, a team from the Enforcement Directorate en route to Shahjahan's residence in Sandeshkhali was attacked, leading to his subsequent absconding.

Two of Shahjahan's close associates, Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, who also hold positions within the TMC, were arrested following police action based on complaints by women in the area.

The situation in Sandeshkhali has become a major political issue.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the BJP of causing trouble, while the BJP and the National Commission for Women (NCW) have accused the TMC and the state government of involvement in crimes against women in the area.

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