Sandeshkhali incident was scripted by BJP: Mamata Banerjee

The West Bengal CM also said not a single woman in Sandeshkhali has filed an FIR, and it was she who asked the police to lodge a suo motu case

Mamata Banerjee (centre) with the TMC Rajya Sabha nominees (photo: @AITCOfficial/X)
Mamata Banerjee (centre) with the TMC Rajya Sabha nominees (photo: @AITCOfficial/X)


West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday said "an incident was made to happen" in Sandeshkhali and blamed it on the BJP for having it scripted along with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the media.

Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo, added that not a single woman in Sandeshkhali has lodged an FIR, and it was she who had directed the police to initiate a suo motu case in this connection.

Since the first week of February, villages in the Sandeshkhali area of North 24 Parganas district have witnessed protests over allegations of sexual atrocities against women and land grabbing by local TMC leaders.

"An incident has happened (in Sandeshkhali). It was made to happen. First, they (BJP) sent the Enforcement Directorate, and then ED's friend, the BJP, entered Sandeshkhali along with some media which started creating hullabaloo,” Banerjee said.

The BJP is trying to create a disturbance in West Bengal, the chief minister alleged while speaking at a public distribution programme organised by the state government at Suri in Birbhum district.

"Not a single woman (from Sandeshkhali) has lodged any FIR. It was I who directed the police to lodge a suo motu case. Our block president has been arrested," she said. The TMC supremo also attacked the BJP on whether the party has taken any action against any of its tainted leaders.

The West Bengal Police have so far arrested 18 people, including local TMC leader Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, in connection with the incidents of violence at Sandeshkhali. They have also added sections of 'gangrape' and 'attempted murder' against three of the prime accused, one of whom, Shahjahan Sheikh, is still absconding. The sections were added after a victim woman recorded her statement before a magistrate under section 164 of the CrPC.

Banerjee said she would be sending her officers to Sandeshkhali who would talk to the locals to find out if the complaints were genuine. "In Bengal, if people are tortured, we take action. I am sending officers who will listen to the people and if it is found that someone has taken things from them, they will get back everything. It's my promise," the chief minister said.

Referring to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) under which several TMC leaders including former ministers were arrested, Banerjee claimed that they were put behind bars to help the BJP win elections.

"There is one PMLA... You can have complaints against anyone and for that purpose, you collect evidence, talk to witnesses, prepare a chargesheet, and let the judiciary function in its own way. But keeping someone in jail year after year without any proof... you think of winning elections in this manner?" she said.

"Today, if someone thinks by threatening people, using the CBI, ED and Election Commission and putting people in jail (they will win elections), I would say that we also have the right to oppose that," she said.

Stating that four children died after being buried by a landslide in a BSF trench at Chopra in Uttar Dinajpur district recently, the TMC chief asked the BJP how many teams were sent there. "How many teams were sent when Dalits and SC-ST people were tortured? How many teams were sent after the Bilkis Bano case?"

Her questions came after the National Commission for Women and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes visited Sandeshkhali. The BJP, the Congress and Left parties also tried to reach the area but were stopped by the police.

Banerjee also referred to the ongoing agitation of farmers in Haryana and Punjab, demanding the government's guarantee on MSP, and said cultivators in Bengal do not face any problems.

"I salute the farmers' protest. I condemn the attacks on them. In Bengal, farmers are our annadata who provide us with food. But look at the way they are being treated by them (BJP). Look at how Punjab, Delhi, and Haryana are burning. I sympathise with our farmers," she said.

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