Updated February 24th, 2024 at 17:06 IST

Tribals Tortured for Voting Against TMC, MGNREGA Wages Taken: NCST's Sandeshkhali Probe Team

The NCST team was also told that Shahjahan would ask tribal families to hand over their land to him and release saltwater in the fields if they protested.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Protests in Sandeshkhali. | Image:ANI
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NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress leader and local strongman Sheikh Shahjahan, alongside his associates, would forcibly take MGNREGA wages from poor tribal families and even torture them for voting against the party, the National Commission for Schedhuled Tribes' (NCST) Sandeshkhali probe team has said.  The three member team, led by Vice-Chairperson Ananta Nayak, was told by complainants that Shahjahan and his associates were being protected by the West Bengal Police. 

The probe team is now back in Delhi and is in process of filing a report that will then be sent to the government. 

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Details of claims narrated to the team

Nayak told PTI that the panel has received more than 50 complaints of sexual harassment of tribal women and land grab by Shahjahan and his associates.

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"The NCST team learned that Shahjahan would instruct poor tribal people to give him their MNREGA earnings. And in case they had already exhausted it, he would ask them to borrow money from lenders and give it to him," Nayak said and added he has not seen anything "like this across the country".

The complaints, the majority of whom are Hindus, told the probe team that the accused and his associates tortured people who voted for other parties in elections, the NCST vice-chairperson said.

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The panel learned that Shahjahan and his associates would ask local women to come for meetings late at night, torturing the family members of those who did not comply with his demands, he said.

"If the victim approached the police, they would not file an FIR or a complaint and instead ask the complainants to 'negotiate' with Shahjahan. The police backed the accused in this case," the NCST vice-chairperson said.

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The complaints also told the NCST team that the accused would ask tribal families to hand over their land to him and release saltwater in the fields if they protested.

Nayak said Shahjahan allegedly grabbed land of more than a thousand tribal and non-tribal people in an area stretching more than 10 kilometres.

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On February 20, the commission issued notices to the chief secretary of West Bengal and the state's police head, asking them to submit factual and action taken reports on the matter within three days.

With inputs from PTI. 

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Published February 24th, 2024 at 17:06 IST