Sandeshkhali horror: Bengal ministers break silence, BJP attacks Nusrat Jahan


Women have alleged systemic sexual exploitation by Trinamool members in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali. As the issue snowballed into a massive controversy, the Trinamool leadership didn’t deny the allegations of sexual abuse at its party office. The Bengal BJP attacked Trinamool MP from the area, Nusrat Jahan, over her social media activity but silence on the issue.

BJP leaders rallied behind the women of Sandeshkhali and protested in West Bengal and the Calcutta High Court took suo motu cognizance of the issue and sought a report from the West Bengal government by February 20.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remained silent on the allegations of sexual exploitation against Sheikh Shahjahan in Sandeshkhali. Mamta Banerjee said, “I sent our state women’s commission team there. They have submitted a report to me. Police have already started arresting those accused of spreading violence there.”

Sandeshkhali has seen protests by women after the allegations of sexual abuse against powerful Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh and his associates.

“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.

BJP leaders have been protesting in West Bengal and Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani, slammed the Mamata Banerjee government.

“Mamata Banerjee is known for the genocide of Hindus. She will now allow her men to pick young married Hindu women to be raped in the TMC office. The question Mamata Banerjee has to answer is – where is Sheikh Shahjahan?,” Smriti Irani said on the reports of sexual violence in Sandeshkhali, on Monday (February 12).

Two Bengal ministers who spoke on the issue didn’t refute the allegations levelled by the women of the area. Instead, they alleged that Smriti Irani was trying to “polarise people”.

One of the ministers said that Mamata Banerjee had assured that the guilty would be punished.

“Rape has no religion. Crimes against women have no religion. Union Minister Smriti Irani held a press conference on Sandeshkhali with the sole intention of polarising the masses and pitting communities against each other. Do you want to ignite a communal riot in Bengal,” asked Chandrima Bhattacharya, Trinamool leader and West Bengal minister.

Birbaha Hansda, another Bengal minister, too attacked Smriti Irani but didn’t deny the allegations of sexual exploitation levelled by the women of Sandeshkhali.

“The Union Minister Smriti Irani attempted to sow discord among women based on religion. I, as a woman, vehemently condemn it. Our leader Mamta Banerjee has said, if something did indeed happen, and culprits are proven guilty, they will be punished,” Birbaha Hansda said.

Nusrat Jahan, Trinamool Lok Sabha MP from Basirhat, the constituency that covers Sandeshkhali, too broke her silence on Tuesday.

The women have been protesting in Sandeshkhali since last week.

The absence of Sheikh Shahjahan, who has been absconding since the Enforcement Directorate tried to raid his premises, emboldened the women.

Nusrat Jahan’s Instagram post.

Though Nusrat Jahan has been active on Instagram and marking Valentine’s week with posts on Rose Day (February 7) and Teddy Day (February 10), it was only on Tuesday (February 12) that she found the time to talk about the women and their allegations.

“When Shahjahan Sheikh and his henchmen are holding Hindu women in confinement and raping them in the TMC office, Nusrat Jahan, TMC MP from Basirhat (of which Sandeshkhali is a part) is busy making reels for Insta and Facebook! Shame on Mamata Banerjee and her MPs,” the West Bengal unit of the BJP posted on Tuesday.

bengal bjp on sandeshkhali and nusrat jahan
Bengal BJP’s post on X on Sandeshkhali, questioning the social media posts of Basirhat MP Nusrat Jahan.

“In such a critical situation, one should not provoke and instigate others but should support the state administration unitedly. The state government is doing what is necessary, and the officials are tirelessly aiding the locals,” said Nusrat Jahan.

“This incident should not be politicised. It’s our job to put out the fire. Not to add fuel to the fire… As a public representative, I am in constant contact with the officials.,” added Nusrat Jahan.

However, Nusrat Jahan’s claims that Bengal government officials were aiding the locals didn’t match the account by National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma.

“According to my team that visited Sandeshkali, police have filed complaints against the relatives of women victims instead of filing their complaints. Villagers are being terrified equally by goons and by the police. This is the way Mamta treats women in West Bengal,” Rekha Sharma posted on X.

“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.”

The Calcutta High Court took suo motu cognizance of the allegations of sexual assault of women “at gunpoint” and transfer of tribal land at Sandeshkhali in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district and sought a report from the state government by February 20.

Published By:

Sushim Mukul

Published On:

Feb 13, 2024


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