Rajat Sharma


AKB At last West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had to bow in the face of stern action by Calcutta High Court and also due to popular pressure from the women of Sandeshkhali. Trinamool Congress strongman Shahjahan Sheikh, accused of sexual abuse of women and land grab, was arrested by state police and produced before a local court on Thursday. He had been in hiding for the last 56 days after his goons assaulted a team of Enforcement Directorate on January 5. He was remanded to CID custody for ten days. There are 42 cases filed against him, mostly relating to forcible occupation of land and rape of women. Bengal police has arrested him on charge of attacking the ED team only. He was arrested in Minakhan, North 24-Parganas, only 30 km away from Sandeshkhali, despite nationwide outcry against him. There was celebration in Sandeshkhali on Thursday. Women blew conch shells and threw ‘gulaal’ (coloured powder) at one another, while men distributed sweets to celebrate the arrest of Shahjahan Sheikh. The women demanded that the Centre must make arrangements so that Shahjahan must remain behind bars forever. Visuals of Shahjahan Sheikh being “escorted” by state police to the Basirhat court, and the strongman walking with a swagger showing a victory sign, soon went viral on social media. Police officers were walking meekly behind the strongman, as he stridently walked inside the courtroom. Even before he was produced in court, his lawyer approached the Calcutta High Court seeking bail and requested for an urgent hearing. The High Court clearly told the lawyer that Shahjahan Sheikh was not an ordinary criminal. The High Court told the lawyer that he was underground for nearly two months, and there was no point seeking a bail soon after his arrest. The High Court told the lawyer that “he does not deserve any sympathy”. Chief Justice T S Sivagnanam told his counsel, “As many as 42 cases are pending against him, and for the next 10 years, you will have a wonderful job. You won’t have the time to handle any other brief. You will have five to seven juniors and a legal team for the next 10 years.” There are reports that the ED may seek custody of Shahjahan Sheikh after his 10 day police custody ends. Hours after his arrest, Trinamool Congress announced that Shahjahan Sheikh has been suspended from the party for the next six years. Shahjahan held the post of party convenor for Sandeshkhali assembly constituency. He is a member of Trinamool controlled North 24 Parganas zilla parishad (district council). After trying to protect Shahjahan for nearly two months, Mamata Banerjee has realized that the continuance of this strongman in her party could prove to be a political liability in the forthcoming elections and he was, therefore, suspended from the party.

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