Calcutta HC directs Bengal govt to cooperate with CBI in Sandeshkhali probe | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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Calcutta HC directs Bengal govt to cooperate with CBI in Sandeshkhali probe

May 02, 2024 05:09 PM IST

The division bench also asked the CBI to send its female officers to Sandeshkhali to instill confidence among women who have raised allegations of sexual assault against a few local TMC leaders

The Calcutta high court on Thursday directed the West Bengal government to deploy more officers and cooperate with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its probe into allegations of land grabbing raised by farmers at Sandeshkhali in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, said lawyers who attended a hearing on the CBI’s interim report on the court-monitored investigation.

The case will now be heard in June. (Calcutta HC official website)
The case will now be heard in June. (Calcutta HC official website)

The division bench of chief justice T S Sivagnanam also asked the CBI to send its female officers to Sandeshkhali to instill confidence among women who have raised allegations of sexual assault against a few local Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders who are now in custody.

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In its interim report, which the division bench wanted to remain confidential in the interest of investigation, the CBI mentioned that it was not being able to properly probe the complaints of land grabbing as state officials were not cooperating, the court said.

Also Read: Supreme Court questions Bengal plea against CBI probe in Sandeshkhali

The court also allowed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to be a party in the Sandeshkhali case since it had sent inquiry teams to the spot.

On April 10, the division bench of chief justice Sivagnanam and justice Hiranmay Bhattacharyya ordered CBI to probe all offences raised by Sandeshkhali residents since February.

The bench was hearing a suo motu motion on these alleged offences and petitions seeking transfer of investigation from the local police to CBI.

On April 10, the court ordered the North 24 Parganas district administration to install security cameras and street lights at Sandeshkhali in 15 days.

On Thursday, the court asked the district administration to act on its order and submit a report when the case is heard again in June.

On Monday, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the Bengal government’s petition challenging the high court’s April 10 order till July.

“It goes without saying that CBI shall have the power to require any person, organisation, government authority, police authorities, quasigovernmental authorities, NGOs, public spirited persons and others who may be genuinely interested in the matter to furnish information on such point or matters, as in its opinion may be useful for, or relevant to the subject matter,” said the high court’s April 10 order.

“This court shall monitor the entire investigation and shall pass further orders after the reports as directed above are filed by CBI,” the order said.

The main accused, TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan, and two TMC-run zilla parishad members, Uttam Sardar and Shibu Hazra, have been arrested by the state police and handed over to federal agencies as ordered by the high court.

Shahjahan was on the run for 55 days before being arrested on February 28 after the high court intervened. He was arrested for allegedly masterminding an attack on an Enforcement Directorate (ED) team that raided his home on January 5 in connection with a public distribution system (PDS) case.

The high court, which earlier ordered CBI to probe the alleged attack on the ED officers, expanded the agency’s area of investigation on April 10 by including charges of extortion, land grabbing and sexual exploitation.

Sandeshkhali residents, who rose against the TMC in February, alleged that their lands were used to run salt water fisheries, making the soil unfit for cultivation.

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