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regular-article-logo Monday, 22 April 2024

CPM vows to continue fight till aggrieved residents of Sandeshkhali get justice

'Shahjahan's incarceration has brought temporary relief to the villagers from what they had been going through all these years but the 55 days of drama that preceded his arrest has left the people of Sandeshkhali traumatised,' former CPM MLA Nirapada Sardar said

Joyjit Ghosh, Subhasish Chaudhuri Calcutta Published 01.03.24, 10:10 AM
CPM state secretary Mohd Salim and former CPM MLA from Sandeshkhali, Nirapada Sardar, walk in a rally at Nazat in North 24-Parganas on Thursday.            Picture by Pashupati Das

CPM state secretary Mohd Salim and former CPM MLA from Sandeshkhali, Nirapada Sardar, walk in a rally at Nazat in North 24-Parganas on Thursday. Picture by Pashupati Das Pashupati Das

The CPM made it clear on Thursday that it would keep the Sandeshkhali pot boiling to reap political dividends and said the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan from Minakha vindicated the party's claim that the absconding Trinamul strongman was in Sandeshkhali "in the safe custody of state police".

"I was arrested as I have been publicly speaking about the whereabouts of Sheikh Shahjahan ever since he fled his Sarberia home in Sandeshkhali following the ED raid on January 5," former CPM MLA Nirapada Sardar, who was arrested on February 11 on charges of allegedly fomenting trouble in the North 24-Parganas' troubled zone and granted bail by Calcutta High Court, told The Telegraph hours after the Trinamul leader was picked up late on Wednesday night.

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"The villagers could see him only the police remained blindfolded to his presence. Today his incarceration has brought temporary relief to the villagers from what they had been going through all these years but the 55 days of drama that preceded his arrest has left the people of Sandeshkhali traumatised. As the scar on the people will not end with the mere arrest of Shahjahan, we continue our fight till the aggrieved villagers of Sandeshkhali get justice," added the former MLA.

The CPM, which is desperate to ramp up its presence in the area and ensure that the BJP doesn't walk away with political dividends from the Sandeshkhali issue, was stumped by prohibitory orders imposed at Nazat, where the party had planned to hold a rally on Thursday and took prior permission.

A couple of days ago, CPM state secretary Mohd Salim had threatened to storm Basirhat, along with Sardar, on Thursday and hold a rally at Nazat, which lies on the opposite bank of Sandeshkhali across the Ichhamati river. Despite prior permission to hold the meeting, the police imposed Section 144 at Nazat and prevented the CPM and its Left Front allies from holding the rally in solidarity with the people of Sandeshkhali fighting against the "atrocities of Shahjahan and his gang".

A stage was erected on the ground near the local block development office and with Lok Sabha polls to be held anytime soon, the CPM had decorated roads leading to the rally site with the party's red flag to convey the message to its rivals as well as the people that it was "organisationally present" in the area. But before the leaders could reach Nazat, the stage was dismantled, loudspeakers brought down and moved out of the rally venue by the police, said a CPM leader.

CPM leaders cried foul about the imposition of Section 144 in Nazat, which is far away from Sandeshkhali's troubled zone, and said it was a ploy to gag voices of protest against the government.

“We came here to make a call for a united fight of people against the ruling party's oppression and atrocities, which the administration forcefully stopped out of fear,” Salim said. Though Left leaders attacked cops for foiling their planned meeting, none from the police and general administration agreed to speak on the record about the clamping of Section 144 in 23 fresh pockets that include parts of Nazat.

Following Shahjahan's arrest, the administration clamped Section 144 presumably to "avoid protests in and around the troubled zone of Sandeshkhali and this included the CPM's rally venue at Nazat", a senior police officer of Basirhat police district said.

A team of CPM workers led by trade union leader Gargi Chatterjee was prevented by the police at a barricade near Akhratala, around two km ahead of the venue. However, senior party leaders, including Salim, Sujan Chakraborty and Sardar, took a "different route” with the help of local party supporters and managed to sneak close to the venue. Thwarted in their plan, Left leaders walked for a kilometre and held a small meeting around 300 meters away from the Nazat venue.

“Police issued us permission. Senior officials enquired with our leaders on many occasions and even this morning reiterated that there would be no problem in holding the meeting. But at the same time, police asked the owner of the venue to withdraw permission. Much later in the morning police announced the clamping of 144 in Nazat, only in fear so that no allegations of atrocities and corruption could be raised by people at the meeting. But Trinamul leaders will not be able to survive with the support of police,” Salim told supporters.

Later speaking to reporters, Salim said that there was a whole lot of drama surrounding Shahjahan's arrest and it would be exposed slowly.

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