Sandeshkhali: NCW says Bengal govt 'suppressing truth', TMC questions panel's impartiality

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 19-02-2024 16:18 IST | Created: 19-02-2024 16:16 IST
Sandeshkhali: NCW says Bengal govt 'suppressing truth', TMC questions panel's impartiality
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National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma on Monday accused the West Bengal government of stifling the voices of numerous women in Sandeshkhali during protests against alleged TMC-led atrocities, prompting a rebuttal from the ruling party, which claimed that the panel was acting under the ''influence of the BJP''.

During the day, she led a delegation of the commission to the restive area and said her visit was to instil confidence in women there so that many of them come out and start speaking their mind.

The NCW chairperson alleged that the Mamata Banerjee government was trying to ''suppress the voice of women so that the truth would not come out''.

''I am in Sandeshkhali for the entire day to hear from women. But the culprit must be arrested. Once (Shajahan) Shiekh is arrested, I believe more women will come out with their complaints. We have to instil confidence in them. I will talk to the police,'' Sharma told reporters soon after reaching the area.

A large number of women in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district had accused Trinamool Congress strongman Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of ''land-grab and sexually assaulting'' them under coercion.

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

Sharma's visit comes after a two-member team of the commission took stock of the situation in the area last week and submitted a report.

The NCW chairperson alleged that neither the district magistrate nor the superintendent of police were present there to meet her.

''The administration and the police are not listening to complaints of women and they do not do anything. Only one woman has come out and registered her statement before a magistrate. We want more women to come in the front... Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has never allowed her officers to meet teams of central officers as she is trying to hide the truth... but the truth will come out,'' Sharma said.

Last week, two members of NCW visited the area and submitted a report revealing a ''troubling pattern of negligence and complicity'' by the state government and law enforcement officials.

''We want to talk to the victims and will then meet the West Bengal governor and then the President in New Delhi. If one incident takes place, it is shameful,'' Sharma said.

She alleged that the TMC government was ''not allowing the state administration to cooperate'' with central agencies.

Reacting to Sharma's allegations, the TMC dubbed the visit by NCW as ''politically motivated'' and wondered why the commission failed to show similar promptness in BJP-ruled states.

''Why didn't she visit Madhya Pradesh's Morena, where a pregnant woman was gang-raped and set ablaze? Why didn't the NCW respond when female wrestlers protested against BJP MP's alleged sexual misconduct? Why did the commission ignore complaints of atrocities against women in Manipur?'' senior state minister Shashi Panja questioned.

She claimed that the West Bengal government has taken all necessary steps to control the situation and several have been arrested.

''The commission should act impartially and should not act as extended offices of the BJP,'' TMC state vice president Jaiprakash Majumdar said.

As the situation in Sandeshkhali gradually returns to normalcy following a week of protests against alleged TMC-led atrocities on villagers and sexual harassment of women, the police have been maintaining a strong vigil in the area.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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