Sandeshkhali horror: Allegations of systemic rape pour out against Trinamool members

“The party (Trinamool) men would come and survey a home that has a beautiful wife, whose girl is young. Then they take the women to the party office… Nights after night they would be kept there… till they are satisfied,” alleged a woman in a video that has now gone viral.

Allegations of systemic sexual exploitation and land grabbing against local Trinamool Congress leaders are emerging from Sandeshkhali in West Bengal. Sheikh Shahjahan, a member of the local Zila Parishad, is the prime culprit, the women alleged.

It is the same Sheikh Shahjahan who is absconding after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) tried to raid his premises.

Sandeshkhali is in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district. It is an island in the Sunderbans, close to the Bangladesh border, and is reachable only by boat.

“Sheikh Shahjahan and his gang established a ‘reign of terror’ where the dignity and modesty of women belonging to the SC & ST Communities have been repeatedly violated. They forcefully captured swathes of land belonging to the Janjatiyas & Tribals,” Suvendu Adhikari, BJP’s leader of opposition in West Bengal and Nandigram MLA wrote on X, on February 11.

According to reports, Section 144 of the CrPC is imposed in some parts of Sandeshkhali, because of the recent protests by the locals, mainly women, armed with lathis, against the exploitation by Shahjahan Sheikh and his men.

The police order prevents more than four people from assembling in public. Some parts of Sandeshkhali have also experienced internet closures for the past few days.


The village of Sandeshkhali came up in the headlines following the attack on Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials who were on their way to raid a powerful local Trinamool Congress leader, Sheikh Shahjahan. The ED action was regarding an alleged ration scam.

Sheikh Shahjahan absconded as a mob of hundreds attacked the ED convoy, injuring the officers on January 5.

It is February 12 — over a month since the attack on the ED team — and Sheikh Shahjahan is still absconding.

BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari also gave the West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose, a 24-hour ultimatum to intervene in Sasndeshkali on Sunday (February 11).

The situation in Sandeshlkhali is such that West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose is on his way to Sandeshkhali and the State Women’s Commission chairperson Leena Gangopadhyay has reached Sandeshkhali on Monday, February 12, which can only be reached using a ferry. There are no bridges across.


The recent protests by the women of Sandeshkhali erupted in the past few days after the allegations of sexual abuse against the powerful Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his associates became more pronounced.

The women, seemingly emboldened by the absence of Sheikh Shahjahan, have come out narrating the horrors they have been facing.

“One might be the husband, but without rights. One would have to let go of his wife,” the woman said in the video.

“They mistreat us, the women here cannot live in safety. We women fear going out. We want safety. My husband, who runs a bank CSP (micropayment kiosks in villages), had hinted earlier that the leaders were eyeing all the money. He usually tells me that he might not live long” Sandeshkhali local Kanika Das told Aaj Tak Bangla.

“The miscreants, accompanied by the police, about 20-30 of them, came home at 3 am. They kicked hard on my door, broke my window, pulled me by my hand, and hair and even snatched away my baby daughter and threw her away,” added Kanika Das, recollecting an incident on February 10.

“They used to take the women to the party (TMC) office and let them off in the morning,” said another woman in the viral video.


The National Commission for Women (NCW) said it was “deeply disturbed” by the reports and sought immediate intervention from the state police.

“NCW is deeply disturbed by reports alleging the wrongful confinement and rape of Hindu women in Basirhat, West Bengal by Sheikh Shahjahan at the TMC party office. We condemn these incidents and urge swift action,” NCW wrote on X on February 10.

The NCW said it also “wrote a letter to the West Bengal DGP for immediate intervention and provision of medical care to victims.”

“We demand a detailed investigation report within 48 hours. The NCW enquiry committee headed by Member Delina will be going to the place of crime in the matter.” the post added.

Sandeshkhali is situated on one of the thousand big and small islands created by the Ganga-Barhmaputra delta system, Sundarbans.

The Sundarbans are shared by India and Bangladesh and are infested with illegal trafficking of humans, cattle, currency notes, and livestock.


The reports saw protests by the BJP across West Bengal.

“Sandeshkhali has shown the way to the whole state. The miscreants have the Chief Minister’s support. TMC leaders are helping the miscreants out. That is why the police are not arresting them. Until Shahjahan is arrested, there will be wide protests in the state. The state government is unable to arrest him,” Falguni Pathak, a leader of the BJP-leader Women’s Unit in Howrah, was quoted by Aaj Tak Bangla.

With the restrictions and communication closures in Sandeshkhali, very little information on the prevailing conditions is getting out of the village.

According to reports by a section of the media, many “Hindus” in Sandeshkhali are being attacked by the “gangs of TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan”.

“Yet another display of barbarity as gangs led by TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan attack Hindu villagers protesting atrocities in Sandeshkhali. All victims from the Dalit community,” Locket Chatterjee, BJP West Bengal General Secretary wrote on X on February 10.

“TMC’s reign of terror knows no bounds,” she added on the post where a family was seen injured and bleeding after they were attacked.

“At a time when the locals have mustered up the courage to protest against such atrocities, the Mamata Police have sided with the TMC goons. They have imposed Section 144 to quell the protests and have teamed up with the goons to attack the protestors at their homes in the darkness of the night,” added opposition leader Suvendu Adhikari on X.

Published By:

Sushim Mukul

Published On:

Feb 12, 2024

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