Surprise that he’s still on the run, says Calcutta HC on TMC’s Sheikh Shahjahan | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Surprise that he’s still on the run, says Calcutta HC on TMC’s Sheikh Shahjahan

Feb 20, 2024 08:21 PM IST

Justice Apurba Sinha Ray took suo motu cognisance of the unrest in Sandeshkhali in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district on Feb 13

KOLKATA: The Calcutta high court on Tuesday expressed surprise that the leader of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) Sheikh Shahjahan, prime accused in the attack on Enforcement Directorate officials on January 5, and underlined that prohibitory orders in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali area will have no impact if the strongman is not caught.

North 24 Parganas: Locals visit the government help camp at Sandeshkhali to resolve their grievances, in North 24 Parganas on Monday. (ANI)
North 24 Parganas: Locals visit the government help camp at Sandeshkhali to resolve their grievances, in North 24 Parganas on Monday. (ANI)

A division bench headed by chief justice TS Sivagnanam told Shahjahan to appear before the high court’s justice Apurba Sinha Ray who on February 13, took suo motu cognisance of the unrest in Sandeshkhali in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

“It is rather surprising that the person who is said to be the core for the problem being precipitated cannot be apprehended still and is on the run, defying the law,” the bench said in the course of the hearing on Tuesday.

Sandeshkhali hit the headlines on January 5 after a team of Enforcement Directorate officials that arrived to raid Sheikh Shahjahan’s house in a money-laundering case was attacked by a mob. Even as Shahjahan evaded arrest, village women hit the streets on February 8 with villagers led by local women hit the streets with lathis and brooms demanding the arrest of Shahjahan and his two aides Uttam Sardar and Shibaprasad Hazra.

So far, 18 people, including local TMC leaders Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, both close aides of Shahjahan, have been arrested and booked for various offences under IPC, including gangrape (Section 376D) and attempt to murder (Section 307).

There were multiple allegations of land grabbing and sexual assault against the three. Last week the state administration set up camps and sent teams to redress them.

“Establishment of redressal mechanisms in itself prima facie shows that land grabbing was committed in the area. The allegation that the lands owned by the tribal villagers have been forcibly taken away in violation of the legal formalities stands prima facie established,” the bench said.

Shahjahan, who was alleged to be the mastermind of the multi-crore ration distribution scam, being investigated by federal agencies remains on the run.

“If one person can hold the entire population to ransom, then that person should not be encouraged by the ruling dispensation,” the court observed.

The district administration has clamped prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC in three phases in the area.

“Without apprehending Shajahan, the imposition of Section 144 of CrPC could not have any impact,” the bench said.

Advocate general Kishore Dutta informed the top court that members of the SC/ST commission, women’s commission and governor CV Ananda Bose were not stopped from visiting the trouble-torn areas. It was only when political leaders sought to go there that the situation precipitated.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, April 20, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On