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regular-article-logo Friday, 24 May 2024

CBI gets over 200 complaints of land-grab and molestation against Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides

The agency had published an email ID — sandeshkhali@cbi.gov.in — on Thursday for people to lodge complaints against Shahjahan, who is in custody, and his men

Kinsuk Basu Calcutta Published 16.04.24, 05:13 AM
Sheikh Shahjahan.

Sheikh Shahjahan. File Photo

The CBI has received over 200 emailed complaints of land-grab and molestation against suspended Trinamul strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, his brother Alamgir and his aides such as Shibu Hazra and Uttam Sardar, the central agency said on Monday.

The agency had published an email ID — sandeshkhali@cbi.gov.in — on Thursday for people to lodge complaints against Shahjahan, who is in custody, and his men.

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Calcutta High Court had last week mandated a court-monitored CBI probe into the allegations of land-grab, assault and molestation in Sandeshkhali.

"The district magistrate, North 24-Parganas, has been requested to give adequate publicity to the email ID in the locality and also a public notice in the vernacular dailies having wide circulation in the area as per the Hon'ble Calcutta High Court’s order," a senior CBI official said while releasing the email ID.

Sources in the agency said they had received over 200 email complaints by Sunday, mostly alleging land-grab, followed by charges of molestation.

“Cases will be now registered against Shahjahan and his aides based on these complaints. The identities of the complainants will be kept under wraps,” a senior CBI officer said.

“A team of officers from the special crime branch and the economic offences wing of the CBI will be formed shortly to probe the complaints. A camp will be set up in Sandeshkhali or the team will operate out of one of the CBI offices in Calcutta.”

The Enforcement Directorate produced Shahjahan before a Prevention of Money Laundering Act court on Monday.

The agency told the court it had reason to believe that at least 47 panchayat samiti members and 294 gram panchayat members in Sandeshkhali had been selected as rural poll candidates on Shahjahan’s instructions.

“This is just to show how influential Shahjahan has been in Sandeshkhali,” the ED lawyer told the court.

Shahjahan’s lawyers said the accused wasn’t powerful enough to dictate terms to the central committee of a democratically elected party.

“Shahjahan’s political influence has nothing to do with the case of alleged money-laundering,” one of the lawyers said.

The court remanded Shahjahan in 14 days’ judicial custody.

Sandeshkhali had grabbed national headlines when a group of villagers allegedly attacked an ED team that had arrived to raid Shahjahan’s home on January 5 morning.

Three ED officials were injured, along with a few central forces personnel and journalists, after being attacked with sticks and bamboo poles. Shahjahan went into hiding.

A little over a month later — after the police had arrested Hazra and Sardar and charged them with gang rape — Sandeshkhali erupted, with men and women taking to the streets demanding Shahjahan’s arrest.

Many villagers alleged their farmland had been grabbed between March and April 2022 and converted into bheris for commercial pisciculture on Shahjahan’s instructions. With public and political pressure mounting, the state government set up police camps to receive complaints from the villagers, capping the move with Shahjahan’s arrest on February 29.

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