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regular-article-logo Saturday, 20 April 2024

Left-leaning team hears tales of horror under Shahjahan Sheikh's reign in Sandeshkhali

The 11-member team — comprising actors and theatre personalities Badshah Moitra, Debdut Ghosh, Bimal Chakraborty, Joyraj Bhattacharjee, Sourav Palodhi and Sima Mukhopadhyay, singers Nasser and Soumik Das, and poet Mandakranta Sen — split into three groups to adhere to the curbs under Section 144

Joyjit Ghosh Calcutta Published 28.02.24, 09:41 AM
Actor Badshah Moitra (holding the mic) and other Left-leaning cultural activists and poets at a news meet after their return to Calcutta from Sandeshkhali on Tuesday.

Actor Badshah Moitra (holding the mic) and other Left-leaning cultural activists and poets at a news meet after their return to Calcutta from Sandeshkhali on Tuesday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Septuagenarian Malati (name changed to protect her identity) in a Sandeshkhali village burst out when asked about her woes, alleging that they had been tortured by Trinamul strongman Shahjahan Sheikh and his "gang" for over a decade.

Speaking to singer Kazi Kamal Nasser, who was part of an 11-member team of Left cultural activists, poets, and lawyers that visited various areas of Sandeshkhali on Tuesday, the elderly woman said: "We have been victims of torture by Shahjahan and his gang for over 10 years. Look at the blood clot on my leg. I am an elderly woman. Still, the cops did not spare me. My guilt was to head for a place where an Opposition leader had come to talk to villagers. I wanted to narrate what we've faced all these years... this is what I got from the police."

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On the team's return to Calcutta, Nasser explained to mediapersons why they videographed these conversations.

"With the permission of the villagers, we have videographed their conversations because we know that Trinamul leaders are questioning the genuineness of people coming out with charges of landgrab and multiple atrocities against ruling party leaders," Nasser said.

The 11-member team — comprising actors and theatre personalities Badshah Moitra, Debdut Ghosh, Bimal Chakraborty, Joyraj Bhattacharjee, Sourav Palodhi and Sima Mukhopadhyay, singers Nasser and Soumik Das, and poet Mandakranta Sen — split into three groups to adhere to the curbs under Section 144 and fox the police so that they could not be stopped from entering Sandeshkhali.

Nasser, who reached the island around 9.30am, said Malati, who barely managed to limp out of her home, told him and two other members of the group — Mandakranta and Sima — that lack of money prevented her from getting her X-ray done despite doctor's advice.

"The elderly woman and a few others said what we saw there was far less compared to the level of atrocities and landgrab perpetrated by Trinamul's Shahjahan and his aides at Majerpara, Patrapara and Bermajur villages," said Nasser and added fear was written on the faces of women they met.

"In all the villages we visited, we did not see a single male member. The women told us they migrated to other states in search of jobs or fled to avoid police highhandedness. Almost all the villagers we met said their land had been grabbed and so had their right to vote. They said that for years on every voting day, they are bundled into vehicles and taken to a place where their fingers are inked, but they never get to press the EVM button. One needs to visit Sandeshkhali to know what a hellhole it has become," Nasser said.

Theatre director Joyraj Bhattacharjee said the women spoke not only of sexual assault and torture at the hands of Trinamul goons but how they were blamed or slut-shamed.

The activists urged people to stand by the Sandeshkhali villagers in their fight against "landgrab by the ruling party" and "police terror".

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