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HomeNews ReportsCalcutta HC declines urgent hearing of PIL seeking protection for women in Sandeshkhali

Calcutta HC declines urgent hearing of PIL seeking protection for women in Sandeshkhali

Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam, leading a division bench, inquired whether the petitioner held an elected position such as MLA or panchayat pradhan, or if they were a resident of Sandeshkhali, stressing that merely attaching newspaper reports to the petition would not suffice.

On Monday, the Calcutta High Court declined to prioritise a PIL for an urgent hearing, which sought protection for women residing in the Sandeshkhali area amid allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by individuals affiliated with the ruling Trinamool Congress. Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam, leading a division bench, inquired whether the petitioner held an elected position such as MLA or panchayat pradhan, or if they were a resident of Sandeshkhali, stressing that merely attaching newspaper reports to the petition would not suffice.

The Chief Justice informed the petitioner’s lawyer that the essential criteria for a PIL must be met for consideration. Despite the lawyer’s plea for an urgent hearing regarding the public interest litigation (PIL) aimed at safeguarding women villagers of Sandeshkhali in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, the division bench, also including Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya, verbally conveyed its inability to expedite the petition.

The bench explained that as another bench was already scheduled to address a matter concerning Sandeshkhali, simultaneous proceedings could not be entertained. They advised the lawyer to observe the proceedings before Justice Kaushik Chanda’s court, where a related petition regarding Sandeshkhali was listed for a hearing, and if independent evidence existed, to request intervention in that proceeding.

Certain villages in Sandeshkhali’s community development block II in the North 24 Parganas district have witnessed protests due to allegations of sexual misconduct by some local TMC leaders and their associates, as well as land grabbing from villagers.

The Background of the Controversy

On 8th February this year, hundreds of women in Sandeshkhali took to the streets to protest against land grabbing, non-payment of wages and sexual violence committed by Trinamool Congress goon Sheikh Shahjahan and his two aides Shiba Prasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar.

The women attacked Shahjahan’s illicitly obtained properties and set fire to a poultry farm owned by Shiba Prasad Hazra. They also surrounded the Sandeshkali police station and demanded the immediate arrest of the trio. The agitation in the village lasted for 3 days.

During that time, the TMC goons retaliated and the police acted as mute spectators. In several cases, the cops themselves resorted to harassment of the women. It had come to light that the residents were the subject of sexual violence by the TMC for a long time.

On 10th February, the local police imposed Section 144 in various areas in Sandeshkhali and also banned the use of the Internet in 16 panchayats scattered over the two blocks of Sandeshkhali-I and Sandeshkhali-II.

In a bid to pacify the angry villagers of Sandeshkhali, the TMC leadership suspended Uttam Sardar from the party for six years. The suspended TMC leader and Zilla Parishad member was subsequently arrested in the Sandeshkhali police station area.

The Mamata Banerjee-led-TMC government arrested a former CPI(M) MLA named Nirpada Sardar in connection to the case on 11th February. BJP leader Vikas Singh, who happens to be the Convenor of the Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency, was also arrested in connection to the women’s protest against TMC goons.

On Friday (17th February), the police arrested TMC leader Shibu Prasad Hazra over land grabbing and sexual exploitation of women in Sandeshkhali. The primary accused Sheikh Shahjahan, is still on the run from the law enforcement authorities.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
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