"Conscience Shocked": Human Rights Panel To Send Team To Bengal's Sandeshkhali

The panel has also issued a notice to the West Bengal chief secretary and police chief.

'Conscience Shocked': Human Rights Panel To Send Team To Bengal's Sandeshkhali

The Sandeshkhali issue is at the centre of a political firestorm in the state.

New Delhi:

Even as the politics surrounding the issue continues to heat up, the National Human Rights Commission has taken note of the allegations of rape levelled against a Trinamool Congress strongman and his aides by women in West Bengal's Sandeshkhali. The panel has issued a notice to the state's chief secretary and police chief, and will also send a team to the village to conduct a spot enquiry.

Taking note of media reports that local villagers are protesting against the alleged crimes by Trinamool strongman Sheikh Shahjahan - who is on the run - and his aides Uttam Sardar and Shibu Hazra - who have been arrested - the commission on Wednesday said these "indicate prima facie violation of human rights shocking the conscience".

The panel also noted that the safety of women, children and the elderly has been jeopardised and many women have left their homes. Exercising its power under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the commission said it had issued notices to the West Bengal chief secretary and director general of police and asked them to submit action-taken reports within four weeks. 

The officials have also been asked to detail the measures taken for the safety of the villagers and compensation, if any, paid to the victims of the violence.

On Tuesday, the Calcutta High Court had pulled up the Mamata Banerjee government over the situation in Sandeshkhali and said the state "cannot support" Shahjahan.

Allowing BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari to visit the village, the court had said, "We have seen the grievances, the women of the area have flagged issues, there has been some land grabbing. This person (Sheikh Shahjahan) cannot be on the run. The state cannot support it. In the suo motu matter, we will ask him to surrender here. He can't be defying the law."  

The BJP has accused the Trinamool Congress of trying to suppress the allegations and imposing prohibitory orders to prevent the opposition from visiting the village. The ruling party has, however, claimed that the BJP is trying to foment trouble in the area.

Shahjahan has been on the run since an Enforcement Directorate team was attacked by a mob during a raid on his house in connection with an alleged ration scam on January 5.