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Sandeshkhali violence: Calcutta High Court slams West Bengal government over failure to arrest Shajahan Sheikh

The Calcutta High Court slammed the West Bengal government over its failure to arrest the Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh, who has been absconding since the Enforcement Directorate (ED) team that came to raid his residence was attacked by his supporters.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya described Sheikh as the sole cause of the entire problem that has been prevailing in North 24 Parganas district’s Sandeshkhali where allegations of land grabbing and sexual harassment have surfaced.

The court observed that the person who is said to have mastermind the entire thing is still absconding. It added that if Sheikh is defying law, obviously the government should not be supporting him.

Nonetheless, the State Advocate General Kishore Datta contended that the State was not supporting the absconding TMC leader. The development came during the hearing of a matter related to West Bengal BJP Leader Suvendu Adhikari’s visit to Sandeshkhali. The BJP leader was permitted to visit the area by the division bench.

During the hearing today, Justice Sivagnanam apprised the lawyers that the suo motu case regarding the allegation of sexual assault and land grabbing would be heard by the division bench. Justice Sivagnanam further remarked that Sheikh, having remained the member of public representative as part of Zila Parishad, should come forward to address the allegations against him. 

The court noted that Shajahan Sheikh is a public representative. It added that in the suo motu matter, they will ask the TMC leader to surrender. It continued that Sheikh is a people’s representative and cannot be defying law. The court remarked that the Trinamool leader should not be encouraged by the state as there was prima facie material to show he had done damage to the public. 

While the High Court said that it did not know whether the TMC leader was being protected or not, it remarked that the State police certainly had failed to arrest him. It further observed that the state police might not have the wherewithal to arrest him or he is outside the jurisdiction.

Furthermore, the Court said orders to restrict the public movement under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure cannot have any impact on the situation in Sandeshkhali.

The Calcutta High Court will hear the matter next on February 26.

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