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Bengal govt suppressing voice of women in restive Sandeshkhali: National Commission for Women chief

The NCW chairperson alleged that the Mamata Banerjee government was trying to "suppress the voice of women so that the truth would not come out"

PTI Calcutta Published 19.02.24, 02:48 PM
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National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma on Monday accused the West Bengal government of suppressing the voice of a large number of women in Sandeshkhali where protests were held against alleged atrocities by ruling TMC leaders.

During the day, she led a delegation of the commission to the area and said her visit was to instill confidence in women there so that many of them come out and start speaking their mind.


The NCW chairperson alleged that the Mamata Banerjee government was trying to "suppress the voice of women so that the truth would not come out".

"I am in Sandeshkhali for the entire day to hear from women. But the culprit must be arrested. Once (Shajahan) Shiekh is arrested, I believe more women will come out with their complaints. We have to instill confidence in them. I will talk to the police," Sharma told reporters soon after reaching the area.

A large number of women in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district had accused Trinamool Congress strongman Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of "land-grab and sexually assaulting" them under coercion.

Shajahan has been absconding after a mob, allegedly affiliated to him, attacked Enforcement Directorate officials who had gone to search his premises in connection with a ration scam on January 5.

Sharma's visit comes after a two-member team of the commission took stock of the situation in the area last week and submitted a report.

The NCW chairperson also alleged that neither the district magistrate nor the superintendent of police were present there to meet her.

"The administration and the police are not listening to complaints of women and they do not do anything. Only one woman has come out and registered her statement before a magistrate. We want more women to come in the front... Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has never allowed her officers to meet teams of central officers as she is trying to hide the truth... but the truth will come out," Sharma said.

Last week, two members of NCW visited the area and submitted a report revealing a "troubling pattern of negligence and complicity" by the state government and law enforcement officials.

"We want to talk to the victims and will then meet the West Bengal governor and then the President in New Delhi. If one incident takes place, it is shameful," Sharma said.

She alleged that the TMC government was "not allowing the state administration to cooperate" with central agencies.

As the situation in Sandeshkhali gradually returns to normalcy following a week of protests against TMC-led atrocities on villagers and sexual harassment of women, the police have been maintaining a strong vigil in the area.

The TMC, however, dubbed the visit by NCW as "politically motivated".

"The NCW is quick to visit West Bengal. But has never shown similar promptness in visiting BJP-ruled states," TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh said.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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