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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 17 April 2024

Police arrest Indian Secular Front MLA Nausad Siddique on way to Sandeshkhali

A Congress team heading towards Sandeshkhali was also stopped near Nazat, citing the imposition of prohibitory orders

PTI Calcutta Published 27.02.24, 01:27 PM
Nausad Siddique

Nausad Siddique File

Police on Tuesday arrested Indian Secular Front (ISF) MLA Nausad Siddique and prevented senior state Congress leaders from heading towards the trouble-torn Sandeshkhali in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas district.

However, despite tight security, a delegation of pro-Left intellectuals managed to enter Sandeshkhali to engage with local residents and assess the prevailing situation.

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Siddique, who represents Bhangar constituency in South 24 Parganas district, was apprehended near Science City here under Section 151 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which pertains to arresting a person to prevent cognisable offences, a police official said. The ISF MLA was taken to the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar.

Authorities in the North 24 Parganas district have imposed prohibitory orders in the sensitive areas of Sandeshkhali to thwart any untoward incidents.

Expressing surprise over his arrest, Siddique affirmed his intention to meet villagers in Sandeshkhali and underscored his compliance with regulations.

"I don't know why they arrested me. This is several kilometres away from Sandeshkhali. I was going there to meet the villagers. I did not break any rules. Why was I stopped here when prohibitory orders are imposed in Sandeshkhali," Siddique told reporters.

The recent turbulence in Sandeshkhali stems from allegations of sexual abuse and land encroachment by local leaders affiliated with the Trinamool Congress (TMC). A woman ISF leader was arrested in the area recently on charges related to the ongoing violence.

Similarly, a delegation from the West Bengal Congress, led by spokesperson Soumya Aich Roy, was prevented from visiting the region and was detained at Dhamakhali before being escorted to Nazat police station.

Expressing frustration over the obstruction, Aich Roy questioned the motives behind the government's actions and lamented suppression of local voices.

"Why are we being stopped from visiting the area? What is the government trying to hide? The state government is not allowing the locals to speak out," Aich Roy said.

Earlier in the day, Siddique, accompanied by two of his security guards, reached Science City around 9 am when a large contingent of Kolkata Police stopped him.

"Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC have been imposed in certain areas in Sandeshkhali. We cannot allow disruption of law and order by allowing people to visit those areas. That's why he (Siddique) was stopped," a senior police officer told PTI.

Siddique said he was scheduled to hold two programmes in Sandeshkhali.

Meanwhile, a delegation of pro-Left intellectuals managed to visit the area and speak to the locals. They are now on their way back and will conduct a press conference at the press club in Kolkata.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty criticised Siddique's arrest, alleging partisan policing influenced by the ruling TMC.

"This is ridiculous. How can they (police) arrest Nausad at a place which is more than 60 kilometres away from Sandeshkhali? He did not break any rule," Chakraborty said.

BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya echoed similar sentiments, denouncing what he perceived as lawlessness under TMC governance.

"Under the TMC rule, lawlessness prevails in West Bengal. They (police) did the same thing with our leader (party state president) Sukanta Majumdar," he said.

In response, a TMC spokesperson defended the administration's efforts to restore peace in Sandeshkhali, attributing the recent disturbances to the disruptive actions of opposition parties.

"The administration has been trying hard to restore peace in the area. When those efforts have been quite successful, the opposition is trying to disturb the peace in the area. The opposition CPI(M), BJP, and ISF have been involved in vitiating the atmosphere of Sandeshkhali," remarked TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area -- situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata -- has been on the boil for more than a month with protests against Shajahan, who is absconding, and his supporters.

The unrest in the area stems from accusations against Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters of land grabbing and sexual assault with the local TMC strongman evading authorities since a mob attack on Enforcement Directorate officials on January 5.

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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