Updated February 29th, 2024 at 15:43 IST

Mamata Police Forced To Act: From Defending Sheikh Shahjahan To His Arrest | Timeline

Sheikh Shahjahan, the leader of TMC who was wanted for 55 days on charges of sexual assault and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali, was taken into custody today.

Reported by: Pritam Saha
Sandeshkhali Violence: From Defending sheikh Shahjahan To His Arrest | Image:X
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Basirhat: For the past few weeks, Sandeshkhali has been on the boil as several women came out and revolted against the oppression of Sheikh Shahjahan and his men in North 24 Parganas, West Bengal. Women and villagers accused Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his goons, of sexually abusing them and grabbing their land with force. Leaders and members of the Bharatiya Janata Party have been leading the protest against the Mamata Banerjee-led state government for alleged negligence. The state BJP has been staging massive protests in Sandeshkhali. Republic TV has also been bringing you all the latest from ground zero in Sandeshkhali which resulted in a massive women uprising in Bengal. 

Sandeshkhali Timeline

January 5: A team of Enforcement Directorate personnel were attacked by a mob while they were en route to question Sheikh Shahjahan in the ration distribution scheme, which set off a chain of events. The TMC leader was absconding till his arrest today. 

February 8: As hundreds of women in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal, took to the streets to demand the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan, the leader of the absconding Trinamool Congress and the alleged mastermind behind the attack on ED and CAPF officials, tensions intensified. The main accusation is that Shahjahan and his goons subjected the ladies of Sandeshkhali to severe torture and humiliation prior to his escape following the attack. 

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February 9: Sheikh Shahjahan, the leader who had absconded, received a third summons from the ED. Sandeshkhali protests turned violent when demonstrators set fire to a chicken farm owned by Trinamool Congress politician Shibu Hazra, a close confidant of Shahjahan. 

February 10: The state government was directed by West Bengal Governor CV Anand Bose to present a report on the violence that erupted in Sandeshkhali. Section 144 was enforced by the police in Sandeshkhali, and internet use was prohibited until the situation returned to normal. 

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A molestation case was initially filed against Shibu Hazra and Uttam Sardar after other female complainants testified before the state women's commission. Afterwards, Sardar was taken into custody. 

February 11: The West Bengal government was asked to provide a report on the condition of Sandeshkhali by the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC). Sukanta Majumdar, the president of the West Bengal BJP, attacked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying that as a woman, she had failed to save ST women from the violence in Sandeshkhali. "The fact that Sandeshkhali violence and rape charges are being reported indicates that TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh and Shiv Prasad Hazra have established their aristocratic rule and are torturing women belonging to the ST caste. Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister, has not done enough to protect women in Sandeshkhali," he remarked. 

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February 12: As a result of protests by the MLAs from the saffron camp in the House regarding the ongoing violence and tension in Sandeshkhali, Speaker Biman Banerjee suspended six BJP MLAs, including the leader of the opposition, Suvendu Adhikari, from the Assembly for the term. Internet was suspended in the Hingalganj neighbourhood.  

Union Minister Smriti Irani said that Hindu women were being raped in Sandeshkhali, sparking a heated conversation between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress over the accusations.  

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February 13: Calcutta High Court invalidated the prohibitory orders that were implemented in Sandeshkhali under section 144 of the CrPC. The court noted that rather than putting all of their energy into trying to put an end to rallies led, at most, by lathi-wielding village ladies, the police authorities have to reassess their priorities and focus on finding the two main criminals. 

February 14: Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was reinstated by the West Bengal government in seven gram panchayats, including Sandeshkhali, within a 500-meter radius. Because of the BJP's agitation over claims that women in Sandeshkhali block have been sexually harassed, Section 144 has been enforced in the region till February 19 in order to ensure law and order. 

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February 15: A lawyer petitioned the Supreme Court to relocate the investigation and trial away from West Bengal in relation to the alleged sexual assault of women in Sandeshkhali. Advocate Alakh Alok Srivastava has filed the plea and has also requested a special investigation team (SIT) or the CBI probe conducted under the supervision of the supreme court.  

February 16: On a visit to Sandeshkhali, members of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) looked into claims of child abuse. In Khulna village in Sandeshkhali, a woman claimed that miscreants had broken into her home, "physically assaulted her and also snatched her infant daughter and callously threw her away." The WBCPCR team went to the village to look into the allegations of child abuse in the area. A 10-member team headed by two female Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs) were looking into the Sandeshkhali incidents, said state's Director General of Police (DGP), Rajeev Kumar. 

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February 17: Shibu Hazra, a close aide to Shahjahan, was taken into custody in the West Bengali district of Basirhat's Najat area.  

February 18: Most likely, Barasat, a North 24 Parganas district subdivision adjacent to Sandeshkhali village, would host a rally for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Early March is when the rally is anticipated to take place.  

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Shibu Hazra, Shahjahan's close aide, who had been detained earlier over the Sandeshkhali violent incident, was placed in police custody for eight days. Hazra was sent into police custody for eight days by the Basirhat subdivision court. On February 17, Shibu Hazra was taken into custody in the Basirhat, West Bengal, neighbourhood of Najat. 

February 19: The Supreme Court suspended the Parliament Ethics Committee's proceedings against senior West Bengal officials in connection with the Sandeshkhali protest and sent notice to the concerned respondents. 

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Republic Bangla Reporter Arrested: Santu Pan, a Republic Bangla reporter, was detained while covering the incident in Sandeshkhali, which is located around 80 kilometres (50 miles) east of Kolkata. He was held in police custody for three days in a brazen move to stop the free press. 

February 20: The West Bengal government was pulled up by the Calcutta High Court, which said that it would ask Sheikh Shahjahan to surrender.

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February 21: Rajeev Kumar, the DGP of West Bengal, stated that people in Sandeshkhali will have their concerns heard by the police, and those found guilty will face severe consequences.

February 22: Residents of Sandeshkhali freed a children's park that the Shahjahan gang had taken over.

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Santu Pan Bail: Republic Bangla reporter Santu Pan was granted bail. Calcutta High Court ordered a stay on further proceedings in the police investigation into Pan. Calcutta High Court also made stinging observations against the Police's action in arresting Santu Pan.

February 23: Locals in Sandeshkhali started setting fire to Trinamool officials' residences, sparking further protests.

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February 24: State ministers from a Trinamool team visited the area and gave the residents hope that justice would be served.

February 25: Abhishek Banerjee, general secretary of the Trinamool Party, stated that the party was not providing Shahjahan Sheikh with protection. He claimed that because the probe against Sheikh had been halted by the Calcutta High Court, he had not been detained.

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February 26: The Calcutta High Court declared that Shahjahan needed to be arrested and made it clear that the court had not issued a stay of his detention.

February 27: West Bengal Governor CV Ananda said that if the state administration is unable to arrest Shahjahan, they provide a report in less than 72 hours.

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February 28: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed, "Tribal land would not be taken away under any circumstances. Suvendu Adhikari, a senior BJP leader, was permitted to visit the village by the High Court. 

February 29: Sheikh Shahjahan Arrest

Sheikh Shahjahan, the leader of the Trinamool Congress who was wanted for 55 days on charges of sexual assault and land grabbing in Sandeshkhali, West Bengal, was taken into custody early on Thursday morning. Senior police officer Aminul Islam Khan has said that the 53-year-old politician will appear in court today after being arrested from the Minakhan region in North 24 Parganas.

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Published February 29th, 2024 at 10:56 IST