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'TMC Not Shielding Shahjahan', Says Abhishek Banerjee After Probe Panel Was Arrested While Visiting Sandeshkhali

Six members of an independent fact-finding committee led by former Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy were barred by police from visiting Sandeskhali in West Bengal.

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TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee
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Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday claimed that is party is not protecting the accused Sheikh Shahjahan from being nabbed by the police in land grab and sexual assault cases in Sandeshkhali.

His statement came hours after a fact-finding team was arrested on Sunday by the police after they tried to move towards tension gripped Sandeshkhali in West Bengal.

The tension has gripped Sandeshkhali in West Bengal’s 24 North Parganas district after several women leveled sexual harassment allegations againt TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh, besides land grab in the area.

What did Abhishek Banerjee say?

Speaking at an event in Budge Budge in South 24 Parganas, Banerjee stated that some individuals from outside the area were inciting trouble and causing disruptions in the region before the Lok Sabha elections.

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"The TMC is not shielding Shajahan Sheikh... We have a zero-tolerance policy against anyone committing any crime," he said.

Banerjee told reporters that the state police are unable to arrest Sheikh due to ongoing investigations by the ED into alleged ration scam cases involving him.

He reportedly said, "Had it not been so, how come TMC leaders like Uttam Sardar and Sibu Hazra could be arrested by police, and removed from the party on basis of FIRs lodged against them?"

"If curbs on state investigating agencies are lifted... you will see a different outcome, as the party will not protect anyone if found guilty," the Diamond Harbour MP said.

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Earlier, six members of an independent fact-finding committee led by former Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy were stopped by police as they were proceeding to Sandeshkhali area to probe alleged incidents of atrocities on women.

However, they were barred by the police to visit Sandeshkhali.

The police cited Section 144 CrPC was in force in parts of Sandeshkhali and it would not be prudent to allow them access to the area even in groups of four-five, as senior police officers stopped their convoy at the Bhojerhat area, which is around 52 km from the riverine area, on Basanti Highway.

Reddy, accompanied by former IPS officer Raj Pal Singh, former National Commission for Women member Charu Wali Khanna, advocates O P Vyas and Bhavna Bajaj, and senior journalist Sanjeev Nayak, sat on the wayside vowing to proceed to the area as high drama followed, PTI reported.

The report said the six were detained by police and taken in a vehicle and later released.

"This is completely illegal. We have told the police personnel as law-abiding citizens we will not break rules. No curfew has been imposed in Sandeshkhali. So we can go in two groups. At least two of our women members should be allowed to visit the females who had bore the brunt of atrocities of musclemen enjoying political patronage and impunity from police action in all these days till the media unravelled the shocking truth", Reddy was quoted as saying.

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He added: "The administration cannot stop civil society members of the country to interact with victims of human rights violation. What they (administration) are scared to hide".

They panel was scheduled to visit Majherpara, Natun para, Patra para and Naskarpara Ras temple under the jurisdiction of Sandeshkhali police station limits.

The committee is slated to submit a report to the constitutional authorities.

Asked about the police action against the fact-finding team, Sujit Basu, one of the two West Bengal ministers who visited Sandeshkhali for the second day on Sunday, told reporters, "I don't have any knowledge or information about that".

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On Saturday, a TMC delegation consisting of two West Bengal ministers Partha Bhowmik and Sujit Basu visited different parts of the riverine area, interacted with locals and promised their grievances will be addressed.

They had also promised all the guilty involved in alleged atrocities will be brought to book and the ruling party has 'zero tolerance' to wrongdoings of a section of local leaders.

Meanwhile, local MP Nusrat Jahan who has been under fire after the incident said, she has stood with the people of her constituency in time sof joy and sorrow. TMC leader Jahan added necessary steps are being taken for the welfare of the people and added that the issue should be "politicised".

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"It is heart wrenching waking up to such allegations. As a woman, as a public representative I have always followed my parties guidelines and served the people. With the Sandeshkhali incident raging, Our Hon CM has already send Help.. and necessary steps are being taken for the welfare of the people. We are not above the law.. thus abiding by it and supporting the administration is what one needs to do. I have genuinely served the people in my constituency, in times of joy, in times of trouble.. I act in accordance with the guidelines of my party.. and I believe we must have faith in the state govt and administration,what is wrong shall always be condemned .We must refrain from targeting each other.. and come together to help create peace and not commotion. People’s security and welfare is our top priority.. Rest who says what about whom does not matter. Like I said before.. I’d repeat again 'STOP POLITICISING'," she said on X.

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