Parliament Panel Probe Against Bengal Officers On Hold In Sandeshkhali Case

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Parliament Panel Probe Against Bengal Officers On Hold In Sandeshkhali Case

New Delhi:

In a major intervention in the case linked to the alleged atrocities against villagers in Sandeshkhali, the Supreme Court on Monday paused a Parliament Committee proceedings against top officers of the West Bengal government.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud issued notices to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Majumdar, and the Union Home Ministry, and sought their responses within four weeks.

Notices have also been issued to the DGP, Chief Secretary, District Magistrate and the ASP.

The Privileges Committee of the Parliament had ordered the Chief Secretary of West Bengal, the state Director General of Police and the local District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police, and the police station in-charge to appear before it on Monday.

The notice was issued after Mr Majumdar, an MP from Balurghat, filed a complaint alleging “misconduct, brutality and life-threatening injuries to him”.

Challenging the summons, Chief Secretary Bhagwati Prasad Gopalika and DGP Rajiv Kumar told the court that political activity can never be a breach of privilege. “Privilege is never meant for this,” said senior advocate AM Singhvi, representing the officers.

Referring to Mr Majumdar’s complaint that he was injured during a clash with the cops when his delegation tried to enter Sandeshkhali, senior advocate Kapil Sibal pointed out that 38 state police officials – including eight women cops -also sustained injuries.

“The complaint is based on a completely wrong story,” said Mr Sibal.

The petition filed by the officers argued Mr Majumdar was demonstrating on a police car when a woman member of his party pushed him and he fell on its bonnet. The police had no role in the incident which is evident in videos, they argued.

The case in Sandeshkhali surrounds a Trinamool leader and local strongman Sheikh Sahajan, who and his aides have been accused of systematically exploiting the villagers and multiple counts of sexual assault. Two of his henchmen – Uttam Sardar and Shibu Prasad Hazra – have been arrested, but Shahjahan is still on the run.

A BJP delegation to the island was stopped by the cops on Wednesday.

Governor CV Ananda Bose, who has visited Sandeshkhali, said that “women in numbers” have told him they were harassed and intimidated, and that he has forwarded their written complaints to the state government.

“Women in numbers met me and told me about their grievance. They said they were molested, harassed and intimidated, their husbands were beaten up,” Mr Bose told NDTV.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has accused the BJP of making a “mountain out of a molehill”. “Instead of peace, they are starting fires,” she has claimed.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes, which visited Sandeshkhali last week, had recommended President’s Rule in the state amid violence and political tension.

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