Abhishek Banerjee says TMC not ‘shielding’ Shajahan Sheikh: ‘We have…’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Abhishek Banerjee says TMC not ‘shielding’ Shajahan Sheikh: ‘We have…’

Feb 25, 2024 10:25 PM IST

TMC strongman Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides are accused of land grabbing and sexually abusing women in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali.

Trinamool Congress national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday asserted that his party is not shielding its absconding leader Shajahan Sheikh, who has been at the centre of the row in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali, PTI reported.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata.(ANI)
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee with TMC MP Abhishek Banerjee in Kolkata.(ANI)

Sandeshkhali has been on the boil since early this month following allegations of land grabbing and sexual abuse of women by TMC strongman Sheikh Shahjahan. Women had hit the streets demanding the arrest of Shahjahan and his aides.

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The area first came into limelight on January 5 after an Enforcement Directorate team arrived to arrest Sheikh Shahjahan was attacked by a violent mob, injuring three officials. Sheikh Shahjahan has since been absconding.

Also Read | Independent fact-finding team on way to Sandeshkhali detained by police

On Sunday, Banerjee said that claimed that a few outsiders were fomenting trouble and creating disturbances in the region ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

“The TMC is not shielding Shajahan Sheikh... We have a zero-tolerance policy against anyone committing any crime,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by PTI.

Opposition parties, particularly the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state have accused the ruling Trinamool Congress of shielding Sheikh Shahjahan. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, however, has blamed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for the tensions.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has so far received more than 500 complaints related to land grabbing from villagers of Sandeshkhali over the past one week.

Also Read | In restive Bengal village, an outpouring of anger, grief

So far, 18 people, including local TMC leaders Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, both close aides of Shahjahan, have been arrested in connection with complaints of sexual assault, land grabbing and inciting violence in Sandeshkhali.

Who is Shajahan Sheikh?

Shahjahan Sheikh, 42, is popularly known as "Bhai", who started as a small-time worker in the fisheries of the Sandeshkhali block in North 24 Parganas near the Bangladesh border.

Sheikh entered politics in 2004 as a union leader in the brick kilns. He later joined the local CPI(M) unit, maintaining his presence despite the changing political landscape in West Bengal.

Known for fiery speeches and organisational skills, Sheikh caught the attention of Trinamool Congress leadership in 2012.

The 42-year-old worked under the leadership of the then TMC national general secretary Mukul Roy and North 24 Parganas TMC district president Jyotipriyo Mullick. He quickly ascended in power, becoming a close associate of Mullick.

In 2018, Sheikh gained prominence as the deputy head of the Sarberia Agarhati gram panchayat. His younger brothers are also active TMC workers. They also manage his business, including land dealings.

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