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‘WB Police deliberately filed fake cases of molestation against ED officers’: CBI to Calcutta HC in Sandeshkhali probe hearing

"State Police filed false cases of molesting women by ED officers. This is the case, where the State Police wanted to implicate ED Officers in false cases," the CBI said.

On Monday (4th March), the Central Bureau of Investigation informed the Calcutta High Court that the West Bengal Police deliberately filed fake cases of molestation against the Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers. “State Police filed false cases of molesting women by ED officers. This is the case, where the State Police wanted to implicate ED Officers in false cases,” the CBI said.

The Court was hearing one of the cases filed in the Sandeshkhali issue. The ED mentioned its plea concerning the arrest of accused Shahjahan Sheikh, who was apprehended last week by the West Bengal Police for subjecting several women to sexual assault and forcibly taking over tribal lands.

Meanwhile, the advocate representing Sheikh claimed that the ED had filed the maximum number of cases against Sheikh overnight. “The ED itself said that only 4 IPC cases are pending against me. But in my absence before this court, this 4 becomes 41 overnight. I am unable to understand this change in numbers,” he said seeking anticipatory bail for Sheikh.

However, the central agency demanded exclusive custody of Sheikh and said that the accused could have been arrested in 40 cases but at present, he has been arrested only in two FIRs which include cases related to attacks on ED Officers. This is because the Court earlier allowed permission for arrest by keeping the order for ED to investigate the matter.

The advocate representing the state police meanwhile claimed that the local villagers attacked the ED officers and that the police were not pre-informed about the ED raids at Sheikh’s place. “When the ED Officers went there, the local police weren’t informed that they would be going to raid Shahjahan Sheikh’s premises. Local villagers assaulted officers of ED. Only after the assault, the ED informed Sandeshkhali Police Station but the said police had no jurisdiction and the competent local station was informed,” Adv Datta said.

To which the CBI clarified saying, “Our allegation isn’t against the local police. Our case is that in this case a sitting minister was involved and that the accused whose premises were to be raided was a leading member of the ruling party. Then our complaint (on attacks) was diluted by the local police and a serious offence of section 307 which was made out, wasn’t invoked.”

ASG Raju representing the CBI said that the police custody in any case cannot be extended beyond 15 days and that the State Police only wants to frustrate the probe and pass time till 15 days.

He also said that the state police filed false cases of molesting women by ED officers. “This is the case, where the State Police wanted to implicate ED Officers in false cases,” he said.

Fact-finding committee confirms State police siding Sheikh:

This comes a day after a fact-finding team headed by former Patna High Court Chief Justice L Narasimha Reddy visited several villages in the conflict-ridden Sandeshkhali region to begin a first-hand probe. The team’s first-hand investigation concluded that the area has been prone to serious human rights abuses.

“There are major human rights violations in Sandeshkhali. After Shahjahan’s arrest, the police’s behavior was complimentary towards him. He was seen walking like a king (following his arrest). There must be many like Shahjahan in Bengal,” informed Retired Inspector General Rajpal Singh, a member of the team after the visit.

One of the members, Bhavna Bajaj talked about the alarming state of affairs in Sandeshkhali. She called the incident “heart-wrenching” and addressed how challenging it was to uncover the truth because of police and government meddling and shielding. She pointed out, “They don’t want the facts to come to light.”

On 25th February, the fact-finding team attempted to travel to Sandeshkhali but was halted in their tracks by the state police, who attributed their actions to prohibitory orders issued under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Central fact-finding team was granted permission to visit Sandeshkhali on 28th February by Justice Kaushik Chanda’s single-judge bench, following the filing of a suit in the Calcutta High Court. 

Sahajahan Sheikh’s arrest and his overall influence

Shahjahan Sheikh, a Trinamool Congress strongman was taken into custody by the West Bengal Police on 28th of February night from the Bamanpukur area at Minakhan in North 24 Parganas. He was sent to 10 days in police custody by a court in connection with an assault on Enforcement Directorate officials on 5th January during the course of a raid. He managed to evade the authorities for fifty-five days after he was accused of sexual assault and land grab by hundreds of women on Sandeshkhali.

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. Popularly referred to as ‘Betaj Badshah‘ Shahjahan Sheikh is an influential person in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali, an area that is adjacent to the Bangladesh border.

The Block Development Officer (BDO) has received more than 700 complaints against him in six days of excesses against villagers in the last six days. He was also the mastermind behind the assault on Enforcement Directorate officials who had reached to execute a raid on his residence as part of an investigation into the ration scam.

Meanwhile, 50 allegations of “sexual abuse and land grab” against the Trinamool leader and his accomplices have been filed by tribal families with the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. A total of 1,250 complaints, 400 of which had to do with land-related matters, were reported to the state government officials.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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