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Supreme Court turns down petition seeking CBI probe into Sandeshkhali violence, tells petitioner to not ‘compare’ situation with Manipur

The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to move the Calcutta High Court instead, adding that High Courts have the power to constitute an SIT with officers of other States.

On Monday (19th February), the Supreme Court dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the violence in Sandeshkhali village in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

The matter came up for hearing before a 2-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices BV Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan. The petitioner, Alakh Alok Srivastava, pointed out allegations of sexual violence in Sandeshkhali and highlighted the prior concerns of the apex court about a similar situation in Manipur.

At that point, Justice BV Nagarathna intervened and said, “Please do not compare with what happened in Manipur to what happened here. Please.”

The Supreme Court asked the petitioner to move the Calcutta High Court instead, adding that High Courts have the power to constitute an SIT with officers of other States.

The 2-Judge Bench noted that the Calcutta High Court has already taken cognisance of the matter and that multiple proceedings before different courts should be avoided.

“This plea is dismissed as withdrawn with liberty reserved to approach High Court,” the Supreme Court ruled. Petitioner Alakh Alok Srivastava had said that women in Sandeshkhali were equally oppressed as women in Manipur.

Earlier on Monday (19th February), the Calcutta High Court refused to entertain 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.

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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