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Club beats up widow, lawkeepers look on

Krishnagar, July 25: The Nadia widow, who has been fighting against a club that has taken away her land and branded her a Bangladeshi to rob her of the right to her own property, was severely beaten up last evening.

Her fault: she went to the local police outpost and lodged a complaint against the members of Kishore Sangha, who were hurling abuses at her.

Shephali Saha, 60, has been admitted to Shaktinagar Hospital in Krishnagar.

The Telegraph reported on April 22 how the club grabbed almost 80 per cent of the lonely widow’s property. A clubhouse had been built on Shephali’s land and she was being pressured to leave the little corner in which she lived.

The local panchayat certified the widow as an Indian citizen and a subdivisional officer asked the club to vacate her land in June. The club threatened a “Nandigram-like” agitation” and the authorities went into hiding.

Last evening, Shephali lay on the road for about 15 minutes until neighbours took her to the Badkulla health centre.

“There were women among the attackers, too. They held me tight and began raining blows. When I fell to the ground, they kicked me. Some of them tried to throttle me. I cried for help but no one responded,” she said, tears soaking the pillow of her hospital bed.

At Writers’ Buildings, inspector-general (law and order) Raj Kanojia said: “I’ll seek a report from the district superintendent of police.”

“She was beaten up severely, punched all over the body. There aren’t too many external injuries, but she has suffered a terrible trauma,” said Sudeb Biswas, the doctor attending to Shephali.

The woman, who works as a domestic help about 75 km from Calcutta, left her house around six last evening when she was attacked on the road.

She was branded a Bangladeshi last December, though she had been living at the same place for 42 years.

Shephali worked in rich farmer Nagendra Bhowmik’s house from 1966 to 1992, when he died leaving no direct heir to his property. His relatives, who live in Calcutta, and Shephali appealed to the government for a share of his property. The government gave her 5 cottahs in 2000.

District magistrate O.S. Meena said the club has moved the land tribunal against the SDO’s order.

But the tribunal hasn’t stayed the order. “We are trying hard to vacate the club without a tussle,” Meena claimed.

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