Independent fact-finding team on way to Sandeshkhali detained by police | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Independent fact-finding team on way to Sandeshkhali detained by police

ByAdarsh Kumar Gupta
Feb 25, 2024 07:47 PM IST

The six members of the team were detained by police and taken in a vehicle and later released, a police officer said.

An independent fact-finding team led by former Chief Justice of Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy was detained on Sunday when it was proceeding to the trouble-torn Sandeshkhali area in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district to probe alleged incidents of atrocities on women. The team also wanted to probe alleged incidents of Trinamool Congress leaders grabbing residents' land to convert into Bheris (fish farm). The six-member team comprised Reddy, former IPS officer Raj Pal Singh, former National Commission for Women member Charu Wali Khanna, advocates O P Vyas and Bhavna Bajaj, and senior journalist Sanjeev Nayak.

Former chief justice of the Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy (L) with retd. IPS officer Rajpal Singh and former joint registrar (law), NHRC Om Prakash Vyas, three of the six-member fact finding committee on human rights violations in Sandeshkhali, come out from Lalbazar (Kolkata Police headquarters) after their release, in Kolkata, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. Narasimha Reddy, Rajpal Singh and Om Prakash Vyas were detained by the Police when they were enroute to Sandeshkhali. (PTI)
Former chief justice of the Patna High Court L Narasimha Reddy (L) with retd. IPS officer Rajpal Singh and former joint registrar (law), NHRC Om Prakash Vyas, three of the six-member fact finding committee on human rights violations in Sandeshkhali, come out from Lalbazar (Kolkata Police headquarters) after their release, in Kolkata, Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. Narasimha Reddy, Rajpal Singh and Om Prakash Vyas were detained by the Police when they were enroute to Sandeshkhali. (PTI)

The police stopped the team by saying that Section 144 CrPC was in force in parts of Sandeshkhali. The police said it would not be prudent to allow them access to the area even in groups of four-five, and stopped their convoy at the Bhojerhat area, which is around 52 km from the riverine area, on Basanti Highway, reported news agency PTI.

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The six were detained by police and taken in a vehicle and later released, a police officer said.

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What the fact-finding team's members said on police's actions

Reddy termed police's actions as "completely illegal". He said, "This is completely illegal. We have told the police personnel as law-abiding citizens we will not break rules. No curfew has been imposed in Sandeshkhali. So we can go in two groups. At least two of our women members should be allowed to visit the females who had bore the brunt of atrocities of musclemen enjoying political patronage and impunity from police action in all these days till the media unravelled the shocking truth."

Claiming they were given a copy of the section 144 order as they set off for the journey, he said "The administration cannot stop civil society members of the country to interact with victims of human rights violation. What they (administration) are scared to hide".

Khanna said "What they have done is nothing but murder of democracy. They have illegally detained us."

Fact-finding team of BJP was also stopped

A few days ago, a fact-finding team of BJP consisting of Union minister Annapurna Devi, Pratima Bhowmik, MP Sunita Duggal, Kavita Patidar, Sangeeta Yadav and Rajya Sabha member and former director general of police of Uttar Pradesh Brij Lal was stopped by police from entering Sandeshkhali.

What has happened in Sandeshkhali?

In Sandeshkhali, several woman have alleged sexual assault by local Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his supporters. Residents of the village have staged protests, alleging non-action by the police authorities against the accused. The West Bengal police arrested Uttam Sardar and Shibaprasad Hazra, the close aides of Shahjahan.

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