Updated February 22nd, 2024 at 07:46 IST

Shocking Assault On Media By Mamata Cops, R Bangla Reporter Held While Reporting From Sandeshkhali

Sandeshkhali: Republic Bangla reporters Santu Pan, Arnab Majumdar were manhandled by the police at Ferryghat in Sandeshkhali.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Republic Bangla reporters Santu Pan, Arnab Majumdar were heckled at Ferryghat in Sandeshkhali. | Image:Republic Digital
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Sandeshkhali: Republic Bangla reporters Santu Pan and Arnab Majumdar were on late Monday evening heckled by the state police officials at the Ferryghat in the violence-stricken region of Sandeshkhali in West Bengal. 

R Bangla Reporter Held: Leaders React To Assault On Media

West Bengal BJP spokesperson, Shatorupa took on the TMC-led government stating, “Republic Bangla reporter was dragged into an auto. He was arrested for what reason? It was done under the direct instructions of the insensitive Chief Minister of West Bengal.”

“I must congratulate Republic and Republic Bangla and the journalist who has been arrested. Your entire team is doing a splendid job. They arrested your brave reporter but they didn't arrest Shahjahan Sheikh,” the West Bengal BJP leader said while attacking the Mamata Banerjee government.

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National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “Republic TV came forward and the rest (of the media) followed in the Sandeshkhali case. That's why the reporter got arrested. It's quite serious.”

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“No one is safe in West Bengal. Even my family is worried about my safety when I am here,” the NCW chairperson asserted. 

Calling the incident extremely unfortunate, Union Minister Shantanu Thakur stated, “The attack on the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, is truly unfortunate. In West Bengal, where democracy appears to be faltering, the government's inefficiency is increasingly evident.”

Union Minister Thakur also sought action against the Mamata Banerjee-led government claiming that the police administration in West Bengal is partial. 
 

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Senior Supreme Court Advocate and Rajya Sabha MP Mahesh Jethmalani responded saying, “Mamata Banerjee communalises crime and blames other people for the same. So many people who have opposed the TMC's ideology have suffered just like you.”

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“The epitome of fascism is the TMC and the biggest fascist in this country today is Mamata Banerjee. This is only to be expected. It's a pattern of behaviour. She subverts the law, and she misuses the police. The entire state machinery is at her beck and command,” Jethmalani said.
 

This is a massive, inhuman and direct attack on the fourth pillar of Democracy, Sukanta Majumdar said in a post on 'X'.

Union Minister Anurag Thakur said, "Instruction should have been given to act against the officials and those guilty. However, Republic Bangla reporter has been held.. They are being harassed while reporting on the issue… this is making a mockery of the Constitution". Calling the recent developments in Sandeshkhali 'against the Rights of Women', Thakur said, “Women are feeling unsafe in a state wherein the chief minister is herself a woman.”

“From media to women, everyone is unsafe in West Bengal”, the minister further said, adding that it is the right of the media to uncover the truth in front of us. "During the Covid-19 pandemic, it was media persons who carried their duty of spreading awareness.. I want to put it on record that journalists kept the people informed even during Covid", Thakur added.

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BJP's Tushar Kanti Ghosh, on the other hand, said: “I strongly condemn the illegal arrest of Republic Bangla journalist Santu Pan by the Mamata Police”.

"R Bangla reporter not allowed to take public transport, was made to stand for three to four hours  in one place, after which he was physically dragged without being served any notice". 

Earlier during the day, the National Commission for Women (NCW) chief Rekha Sharma visited Sandeshkhali along with her delegation, and demanded immediate arrest of Sheikh. “I will have a conversation with the Police. I want the victims to talk to me, the NCW is standing with them. We will take action on every complaint received from the victims. Be it murder or rape, the police do not take any action, in fact, they arrest the relatives of the victims. This is not just the situation in Sandeshkhali but the entire state,” Sharma said.

In points: Here is what the NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said -

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  • “Today I visited Sandeshkhali and several women came forward and complained about molestation...Those who sit far away and comment that it is a political agenda should once visit here”, news agency ANI quoted Sharma as saying.
  • “A home has been built by the Governor for the women of Sandeshkhali. Those who feel that they are not safe in their homes can come here and live... The demand of the women of Sandeshkhali is safety and we will ensure that”. 
  • “I want to request the state police to work without getting afraid and by staying away from the political agenda”. 
  • “In the state, the police are not able to work. They can't do anything without a political agenda despite their willingness to work. Only two people have been arrested, we want the main culprit Shahjahan should be arrested…”
  • “I will submit this report to President and she will take further action. Women are scared because Sheikh Shahjahan is not getting arrested. We need to put pressure on the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan". 

AS IT HAPPENED:

Rekha Sharma To Meet Bengal Governor 

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma said that she would be meeting the victims as well as the law enforcement officers in-charge of the region during her visit to Sandeshkhali. Sharma will also meet the West Bengal Governor CV Ananda Bose. 

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“As you know, very disturbing news has come from Sandeshkhali. I am going there and I want them (women) to get justice. I will meet the DG and the local police. I want to meet the women and assure them of my support. I will also be meeting the governor,” said Rekha Sharma. 

BJP MP Locket Chatterjee Slams Mamata Banerjee 

BJP MP Locket Chatterjee slammed Mamata Banerjee over the Sandeshkhali incident. “Hindu women were selectively targeted by the mafias of Sandeshkhali,” said Locket Chatterjee during a press conference in New Delhi. 

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Locket Chatterjee demanded death penalty for TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh. Mamata Banerjee has not given a single statement till now. Sheikh Shahjahan is still absconding. The police are not able to trace him. They (TMC) want 30% votes. We had heard about atrocities on women in Pakistan, the same is happening in West Bengal and Mamata Banerjee is silent and she is saying that RSS is doing all this,” said Locket Chatterjee. 

BJP Demands Arrest of Sheikh, Majumdar Threatens of 72-hr Protest 

On the Sandeshkhali incident, West Bengal BJP president Sukanta Mazumdar says, "We will hold a minimum 72-hour long protest in the coming days demanding the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan. the probable day of protest is February 22."

 

TMC Questions Rekha Sharma's Visit to Sandeshkhali 

Ruling Trinamool Congress has questioned NCW chief Rekha Sharma's visit to Sandeshkhali. 

“She (Rekha Sharma) needs to know that the state government has taken steps to neutralize the critical situation. Why did NCW not visit the states having double-engine government? We worship Maa Sharada and the BJP has made a caricature of her, hurting our sentiments. Why has NCW neglected these events?” asked State Minister Shashi Panja on Rekha Sharma's visit to Sandeshkhali. 

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What is happening in Sandeshkhali? 

The women of Sandeshkhali have alleged that TMC strongman Shahjahan Sheikh and his aides sexually harassed them and grabbed their land forcefully. While his two aides Uttam and Shibu has been arrested by the agencies, Sheikh is on the run the run. Sheikh gathered limelight after a team of ED officials were attacked as it went to raid Sheikh in connection with the PDS scam in Sandeshkhali, North 24 Parganas district close to Bengal Border. 

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The police have so far arrested 18 people including local TMC leader Shibaprasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar in connection with the incidents of violence at Sandeshkhali. They have also added sections of 'gangrape' and 'attempted murder' against three of the prime accused, one of whom is still absconding.

Mamata accuses BJP of creating unrest in Sandeshkhali 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday pointed fingers at the BJP for instigating the turmoil in Sandeshkhali. This marks the second occasion in the past four days where the chief minister has levied accusations against the BJP for inciting unrest in the region.

"An incident has happened (in Sandeshkhali). It was made to happen. First, they (BJP) sent the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and then ED's friend, the BJP entered Sandeshkhali along with some media, which started creating hullabaloo," Banerjee said. 

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Published February 19th, 2024 at 08:05 IST