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SANDESHKHALI ATROCITIES: MAMATA MUST REPLY

The statements of these victims rubbish the claims being made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the entire matter is “stage managed” by the opposition. Mamata Banerjee had alleged that the women are “lying” and “are bringing Bengal a bad name at the behest of BJP”.

Rajat Sharma Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Updated on: February 22, 2024 6:11 IST
Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma
Image Source : INDIA TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

The Director General of West Bengal Police Rajiv Kumar, on Wednesday, visited Sandeshkhali in North 24-Pargana district, days after a political furore broke out over allegations of sexual abuse of women by local Trinamool Congress goons. This was his first visit since protests by BJP and Congress leaders against atrocities on women in the area with the Calcutta High Court rapping the Mamata Banerjee government about the whereabouts of local TMC strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, who has gone underground. In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Tuesday night, we showed the rape victims narrating the horrific ordeals that had to go through. 

The statements of these victims rubbish the claims being made by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that the entire matter is “stage managed” by the opposition. Mamata Banerjee had alleged that the women are “lying” and “are bringing Bengal a bad name at the behest of BJP”. On the other hand, these women are saying, Mamata must think why women will put their honour at stake by making false rape allegations for political ends. Mamata says, police is already investigating, the accused have been arrested and the truth will come out, but these women are questioning how they can expect justice from the state police, which was present when they were being disrobed and assaulted. Till now, people were watching videos of atrocities on women, the entire Sandeshkhali area was cordoned off by police, and it was difficult to establish whether the videos were real or fake. Even Mamata was alleging that the videos were fake, and the women who were levelling allegations were “outsiders”. Even the National Commission for Women and National SC/ST Commission members visited the area, but Mamata stood by her allegations. 

On Tuesday, India TV team reached Sandeshkhali and spoke to several women, who admitted on camera, that they, alongwith other women, were subjected to sexual abuse by Trinamool Congress goons. The women alleged on camera that TMC goons used to forcibly take away girls and women from their homes every night and subject them to sexual abuse. They said, this was going on for the last several years. The women did not cover their faces when they spoke to India TV, but since their lives are at risk both from local politicians and policemen, we blurred their faces so that they cannot be recognized. The women named two top goons of Shahjahan - Shibu Hajra and Uttam Sardar, as the main masterminds behind the sexual atrocities. Most of the women demanded Central intervention in Sandeshkhali. They alleged that policemen “were laughing when we were being forcibly disrobed…they asked our husbands to remain at home and forcibly took us away for the whole night….This reign of terror was there for the last several years, but the local villagers did not support us”. Now Mamata cannot allege that these videos are fabricated or given by BJP, nor can she say that the women were forced to make such allegations. The women were narrating the ordeals that they went through. They are demanding that Sheikh Shahjahan and his goons must be put behind bars immediately and the reign of terror must end. On Tuesday, BJP leader of opposition Suvendu Adhikari and CPI-M leader Brinda Karat visited Sandeshkhali separately and met the victims. 

TMC leader Kunal Ghosh said, “While Suvendu had gone there for film shooting, Brinda Karat had gone there for a fashion parade. Their only aim was to create a scene.” Even if we agree with Kunal Ghosh that BJP, Left and Congress leaders are visiting Sandeshkhali to score political brownie points, he must explain whether his own party leader Shahjahan Sheikh was doing social service in that area? Are the women of Sandeshkhali telling lies? It would have been better if Mamata Banerjee had personally visited Sandeshkhali, after the videos of these women surfaced. It would have been wiser if Mamata had listened to the victims and taken stringent action against the criminals. Had she done so, this issue would not have blown out of proportions and BJP could not have got the chance to politicize the issue.

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