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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

Sandeshkhali ED attack: Shahjahan confessed, will help nab other accused, say police in remand plea

‘No recovery of any material looted during the assault on the ED team has been made yet… Shahjahan has claimed that these are hidden in secret places which he would help recover’

Arnab Ganguly Calcutta Published 29.02.24, 02:53 PM
Trinamul Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan, accused of sexual violence and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali village, being produced at the Basirhat court, in North 24 Parganas.

Trinamul Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan, accused of sexual violence and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali village, being produced at the Basirhat court, in North 24 Parganas. PTI picture.

The police believe that Shahjahan Sheikh, the Trinamul Congress strongman of Sandeshkhali who was remanded to 10-day CID custody on Thursday after his overnight arrest, was the mastermind behind the January 5 attack on an Enforcement Directorate team, the shock of the brazen violence opening up a story of terror, largescale land grab and sexual violence against women of the Sundarbans island of around 22,000 inhabitants.

Hours after his arrest, Shahjahan was suspended from the Trinamul for six years.

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Later on Thursday, Amir Ali Gazi, an aide of Shahjahan was arrested from Odisha.

The police applied for Shahjahan’s remand in an application that not only details the incident of January 5 that left three officials injured, but also places in court his use of muscle power to rob the officials. Here are the police’s key observations/findings in its remand application filed by Nazat police station sub-inspector Ganesh Sardar:

  • Shahjahan, alias Sk Shahjahan, is “the mastermind of this offence and not only obstructed the ED officials on duty but also assaulted (them) mercilessly using his influence, men, and muscle power as well robbed their official articles.”
  • He is “an influential person in the area” who ran the risk of “absconding and threatening witnesses.”
  • “The reputation of the accused is very bad and there is every possibility of his absconding violating the order of the learned court and hampering the evidences as well as the process of investigation.”
  • After his arrest by sub-inspector Pratap Sarkar of Nazat police station, Shahjahan was interrogated subsequent to which he “confessed” his “guilt” and “involvement in the instant case.”
  • Shahjahan’s help will be required to identify the other “large number of miscreants” involved in the case. “The accused Shahjahan Sheikh is the only means who can provide the details of those involved absconding accused persons.”
  • No recovery of any material looted during the assault on the ED team has been made yet. Also, Shahjahan has claimed that these are “hidden in secret places” which he would help police recover.
CPM state secretary Mohammad Salim, former Sandeshkhali MLA Nirapada Srdar and CPM state secretariat member Palash Das lead a march on the streets of Sandeshkhali after Shahjahan Sheikh's arrest.

CPM state secretary Mohammad Salim, former Sandeshkhali MLA Nirapada Srdar and CPM state secretariat member Palash Das lead a march on the streets of Sandeshkhali after Shahjahan Sheikh's arrest. The Telegraph Online.

The arrest

The Trinamul North 24-Parganas zilla parishad functionary was absconding since the January 5 attack on ED officials. He was arrested late on Wednesday from a house in Minakha, about 30 km from Sandeshkhali, where his writ ran large on all matters of the administration and local business.

During this time, amid mounting allegations of his “reign of terror", residents of Sandeshkhali, especially women, have come out in the street and held violent protests demanding his immediate arrest for alleged land grab, extortion and atrocities on women.

The police have taken into account the prevailing situation in Sadeshkhali which has seen sporadic violence sparked by protests against Shahjahan’s henchmen, who were left without his protection, once he went into hiding.

Complaints, accusations

  • On Monday, local police had filed an FIR against Shahjahan based on around 70 complaints filed by residents.
  • The ED has named Shahjahan as one of the accused in the multi-crore ration distribution scam, in which the former state minister Jyotipriya Mullick was arrested last year and is still behind bars.
  • Four days after the attack on the ED team, two female residents of Sandeshkhali had approached the Calcutta High Court, seeking an investigation into the June 2019 murders of their husbands, both BJP workers Pradip Mandal and Sukanto Mandal.

The attack on ED

According to the police, they came to “know that the inhabitants of the house of Shahjahan Sheikh asked the ED officials to show the search warrant which they denied and when the ED officials started to break the lock of the house, the local people assembled there and started to question the ED officials. It ended up in an argument and a scuffling inclined to a brick battle in between public and ED officials.”

The damage

“During the incident three vehicles used by the raid and media team and also their accessories and belongings of media were damaged.”

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