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Fact-finding team barred from Sandeshkhali

Published:

KOLKATA/SANDESHKHALI:

Trinamool Congress

isn’t shielding fugitive party strongman

Sheikh Shahjahan

,

Calcutta HC

‘s stay on

SIT probe

into the happenings in

Sandeshkhali

is responsible for him being on the loose, MP and party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee said on Sunday.
The remark blaming judicial action for status quo in the restive

North 24-Parganas

pocket coincided with TMC removing Shahjahan’s associate Ajit Maity as regional president, less than 24 hours after he was given that post.

Trigger for the move was Maity’s detention by police after he locked himself up for four-and-a-half hours to escape women protesters in Sandeshkhali.
In Kolkata, an independent six-member fact-finding team led by Justice (retd) L Narasimha Reddy was stopped and arrested en route Sandeshkhali on charges of “breach of peace”. They were released on bail after being escorted back to the city.
“We know Section 144 is imposed there. We intended to go in groups of two, and there should not be any problem in allowing that. Media has reported that political workers and ministers have gone there,” Reddy said.

Abhishek said while inaugurating a water supply project in Kolkata’s Maheshtala said police would have arrested Shahjahan by now had an HC division bench not tied their hands.
“Following the Jan 5 episode when ED officials were attacked at Sandeshkhali, ED filed a complaint and HC ordered constitution of an SIT,” he said.
“Around 10 days later, ED appealed for a stay in HC, and it was accepted, which means state police cannot even summon anyone or send notice of arrest. Next hearing is on March 6.”
Banerjee said when women lodged complaints, cops arrested TMC’s Uttam Sardar and Shibu Hazra. “When TMC did not spare Partha Chatterjee or Jyoti Priya Mallick, who is Sheikh Shahjahan?” he asked.
(With inputs from Rohit Khanna)

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