New videos claim Sandeshkhali women deceived to lodge complaints of rape; TMC slams BJP

New videos claim Sandeshkhali women deceived to lodge complaints of rape; TMC slams BJP

PTI | Kolkata | Updated: 09-05-2024 16:59 IST | Created: 09-05-2024 16:59 IST
New videos claim Sandeshkhali women deceived to lodge complaints of rape; TMC slams BJP
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The Trinamool Congress on Thursday accused the BJP of spreading falsehood about the incidents of Sandeskhali, after several newly-surfaced videos claimed that a local female BJP leader made multiple women sign on blank papers which were later filled up as complaints of sexual assault against TMC leaders.

The allegation was levelled within three days after the TMC took to social media to unveil a Sandeshkhali "sting operation" video featuring a local BJP leader Gangadhar Koyal who claimed that the rape allegations were "staged" and were lodged at the behest of state Leader of Opposition, Suvendu Adhikari.

In a bid to reassert its claims, the TMC shared a fresh set of videos on Thursday of purported women residents of Sandeshkhali who alleged they were "manipulated" by the BJP into filing "false rape cases".

The party also shared a fresh video where BJP's Basirhat candidate and one of the leading faces of Sandeshkhali protests, Rekha Patra, was seen questioning the identity of the contingent of "Sandeshkhali victims" who were earlier taken to Delhi by the state BJP leaders to meet President Draupadi Murmu and relate their ordeal.

On Wednesday, the TMC had alleged that BJP leaders were issuing death threats to women who have expressed their willingness to withdraw their complaints of rape.

PTI, however, could not independently verify the authenticity of any of the tapes released so far.

Referring to the newly released videos, state minister and senior TMC leader, Shashi Panja, condemned the BJP for "perpetuating a false narrative on Sandeshkhali sexual assaults" and threatening victims who sought to retract their police complaints.

''Sandeshkhali victims may have had a few complaints over land grab. But they never had complaints of sexual offence. This again proves that the BJP is spreading falsehood. This despicable act of fabrication and intimidation will not go unpunished,'' Panja said.

West Bengal's Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari, on the other hand, dismissed TMC's claims, alleging that the videos were fabricated by 'bhaipo', an oblique reference to Abhishek Banerjee, and the party's private poll-cum-political consultant, I-PAC, who "distributed money" to get the job done.

"We are soon moving court against both and will ensure both are taken to task for spreading such malicious lies," Adhikari said while participating in a nomination filing rally of Rekha Patra at Basirhat.

The leader claimed that people could see through the web of Trinmool's deceit and Patra would gain a lead of 1.5 lakh votes from the Sandeshkhali region itself.

In one of the latest videos, a woman was heard saying, ''We were deceived into signing on blank papers. We discovered later that rape complaints had been lodged in our names. This is a blatant lie." The woman said the authorities should take action against the woman BJP leader who manipulated them to sign blank papers. Another alleged Sandeshkhali resident echoed similar sentiments in a separate video, claiming that they have become victims of a scheme orchestrated by BJP leader Piyali Das. A third woman also levelled the same allegation against Piyali Das and said, she "has tarnished our reputation and inflicted immense suffering upon us." According to information last received, Das has been summoned by the local police for questioning.

In the video which features Patra, the BJP candidate was heard seconding another woman standing next to her who alleged that the victims who were taken to meet the President were arbitrarily chosen by local BJP leaders.

''Several oppressed women were taken to meet the President. We weren't part of that group. We had gone to meet the Prime Minister (in Barasat where he addressed a public meeting on March 6). If not us, then who were these so-called oppressed women who met the President?" she asked.

''We have a right to know that if we were in Sandeskhali at that time, then who became our faces to meet the President?" Patra was heard adding.

The TMC, meanwhile, has moved the Election Commission urging the poll body to initiate criminal proceedings against the BJP leaders concerned, including Adhikari, for "orchestrating the conspiracy including paying bribes to the women of Sandeshkhali to falsely raise complaints and attempting to influence central investigating agencies and other constitutional authorities".

The party has also demanded that the EC should send "immediate direction(s) of detention and interrogation of… Gangadhar Koyal, Shanti Dolui and any other BJP members implicated in the (video) recordings".

CPI(M) Basirhat Lok Sabha candidate Nirapada Sardar claimed that both TMC and BJP are trying to confuse the people of Sandeshkhali by circulating videos to prove their points, but the voters would reject both and vote for the Left.

The riverine region of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district hit the headlines earlier this year when a group of women protested accusing local TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his associates of sexually assaulting them and land grab.

Sheikh and his associates were arrested.

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

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