Sandeshkhali: CID takes over probe into cases against Shahjahan Sheikh

Sheikh was brought to Bhabani Bhaban in Kolkata from a local court in Basirhat, which sent him to 10-day police custody

Shahjahan Sheikh being produced at Basirhat court on Thursday (photo: PTI)
Shahjahan Sheikh being produced at Basirhat court on Thursday (photo: PTI)

NH Digital

In a significant development, West Bengal's Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has taken over the cases lodged against Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shahjahan Sheikh, who was arrested from Minakhan in North 24 Parganas district late on Wednesday, and has been remanded to 10-day police custody, a senior official said on Thursday.

"We will probe into the cases against him (Sheikh). He has been brought to Bhabani Bhaban (Bengal Police headquarters in Kolkata) for questioning," the CID official told PTI.

Hours after his arrest, the TMC strongman was suspended from the party for six years on Thursday, party leader Derek O'Brien said. "We have decided to suspend Shahjahan Sheikh from the party for six years. As always, we walk the talk. We have set examples in the past, and we are doing so today. But we dare the BJP to suspend leaders who have several corruption and criminal cases against them," O'Brien said at a press conference.

Sheikh's arrest comes in the wake of escalating tensions in the riverine Sandeshkhali area — situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 km from Kolkata. According to officials, his arrest is seen as a crucial move by law enforcement authorities to address the unrest in the region.

Sheikh, who was apprehended in the early hours of Thursday, was brought to Bhawani Bhawan from a local court in Basirhat, which sent him to 10 days police custody. He has been charged in two cases in connection with an assault on Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers on 5 January during a raid at his house as part of an investigation into an alleged ration scam.

He has been booked under various sections of the IPC, including 147 (rioting) and 307 (attempt to murder), police said.

According to the media reports, Sheikh, dressed in a white kurta-pajama, came out of the lock-up at around 10.40 am and walked to the courtroom with policemen behind him. The TMC leader even gestured with his hand to the waiting media contingent.

Sheikh returned to the lock-up after the hearing, which lasted for around two minutes. The police later took him away to an undisclosed destination, reported Business Standard.

Meanwhile, TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh praised the timely arrest of Sheikh, who has been accused of sexual atrocities and land grabbing in the area, and said the party doesn't support culprits. However, the Opposition dubbed the arrest as "scripted".

"Owing to a legal tangle, he couldn't be arrested initially. However, after the court clarified that there was no stay on his arrest, the West Bengal Police did its job. The opposition had earlier exploited the embargo on his arrest," Ghosh told PTI.

Meanwhile, Calcutta High Court chief justice T.S. Sivagnanam on Thursday observed that the court has no sympathy for Sheikh. He made this observation after Sheikh’s counsel sought the attention of the division bench of justices Sivagnanam and Hiranmay Bhattacharya regarding the arrest of his client, and wanted to make some submission in the matter, IANS reported.

The chief justice also declined to hear any kind of submission from Sheikh’s counsel and said it will be heard on 4 March, the next hearing in the Sandeshkhali case that was initiated by the HC suo motu.

It is learnt that Sheikh has been slapped with charges under several non-bailable sections of the IPC. On Thursday, the public prosecutor also described him as an extremely “influential” individual, IANS reported.

With PTI and IANS inputs

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