TMC files complaint with EC against NCW chief for ‘conspiring’ Sandeshkhali incidents

The video that on May 11 allegedly showed a local BJP functionary claiming that Suvendu Adhikari was behind the episode.

ByPTI

Published May 13, 2024 | 1:07 AMUpdatedMay 13, 2024 | 1:08 AM

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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Sunday, 12 May, lodged a complaint with the EC against National Commission for Women Chairperson Rekha Sharma, accusing her of being “one of the major conspirators” of incidents in Sandeshkhali where allegations of sexual abuse against leaders of the ruling party in West Bengal have been made.

In a letter to the Election Commission, the TMC said it was filing a complaint against Sharma and a BJP leader for the commission of serious offences including forgery, fraud, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy on women of Sandeshkhali in North 24 Praganas district.

“This is to draw your urgent attention to a deeply distressing turn of events, wherein, BJP leaders along with member(s) of the NCW have criminally conspired against the entire electorate and hence, warrants your immediate intervention,” the party said in the letter to EC.

The TMC also said, “An interview of a woman from Sandeshkhali was shared on X platform on 10 May which reveals that Rekha Sharma, Chairperson of NCW along with members/leaders of the BJP, including Piyali Das – a BJP member from Sandeshkhali – have committed serious offences of forgery, cheating, fraud, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy by exposing innocent women of Sandeshkhali for political gains.”

The TMC lodged the complaint after the party shared purported videos in which a woman was heard saying, “We were deceived in signing on blank papers. We discovered later that rape complaints had been lodged in our names. This is a blatant lie”.

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The Sandeshkhali incident

The riverine Sandeshkhali area — situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata — had been on the boil in February with protests over allegations of sexual abuse and land grab against now arrested TMC leader Sheikh and his supporters.

The most recent video that surfaced on May 11 allegedly showed a local functionary of the party in Sandeshkhali claiming that the leader of the opposition in the West Bengal Assembly Suvendu Adhikari was behind the episode. In the video lasting over 45 minutes, a man resembling Sandeshkhali mandal president Gangadhar Kayal told this to the questioner.

It was Kayal who had earlier said in another purported clip, the first in a series in the past week, that the rape allegations were “staged”.

In another purported video that surfaced from Sandeshkhali, a local BJP leader was heard saying that over 70 women had received ₹2,000 each for taking part in protests against local TMC satrap Shahjahan Sheikh and his aides who were accused of sexual assault and land grab.

Complaint on NCW chief

Earlier on May 10, West Bengal minister and TMC spokesperson Shashi Panja had alleged that the NCW chairperson acted on “political bias” over the Sandeshkhali allegations and “encouraged women of the area to make false allegations of sexual atrocities”.

Notably, the National Commission for Women (NCW) had recommended to President Droupadi Murmu that the President’s rule be imposed in West Bengal over alleged atrocities on women and violence in Sandeshkhali.

The party appealed to the EC to issue “strict directions to respective police officers to initiate criminal proceedings against Sharma, Das and other unknown BJP leaders for their role in the aforesaid offences”.

In response, BJP dismissed the TMC’s allegations, claiming that the videos were “fabricated”, and threatened to move courts over the issue.

“The TMC is using fake videos to change the narrative ahead of the polls. The TMC has the least regard for NCW or the dignity of the women of Sandeshkhali. All the videos released are fake and doctored,” BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.

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(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)