On Saturday, a protest in Sandeshkhali, North 24 Parganas district, escalated into violence as locals demanded the arrest of Sheikh Shajahan, a Trinamool Congress leader, and his associates. The situation intensified as a house belonging to Shajahan’s aide, Shibu Prasad Hazra, was vandalized, and three poultry farms owned by Hazra were set on fire. The protest, which entered its third day, saw demonstrators carrying sticks and objects, staging processions in various areas.
Reportedly, the protesters alleged that the farms were constructed on land forcibly taken from them, and they were compelled to work on them. Police detained eight individuals in connection with the protests. Meanwhile, supporters of Hazra were accused of attacking the protesters, prompting police to resort to a lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.
Superintendent of Police Hossain Mehedi Rahaman stated that additional forces were deployed to address the situation. He confirmed that a complaint against Shajahan and his aides was lodged and under investigation, with efforts ongoing to locate them.
Offering reassurance about the incident, Additional Director-General Manoj Verma stated that the situation is being handled effectively. He urged people not to take matters into their own hands and highlighted that authorities are thoroughly investigating all filed complaints. Verma cautioned that individuals resorting to violence would face legal consequences.
At the same time, people living nearby started a peaceful protest outside the Sandeshkhali police station. They said they would keep sitting there until Shajahan and his friends were caught. Meanwhile, Shajahan disappeared after a team from the Enforcement Directorate (ED), looking into a suspected ration scam, was attacked by a crowd at his home last month.
Locals accused Shajahan and his associates of forcefully capturing land and subjecting people to oppression during their tenure. Amidst the tensions, supporters of Shajahan also took to the streets, prompting police efforts to prevent clashes.
Criticism mounted against the police and the Trinamool Congress government for alleged failure to maintain law and order. State BJP president Sukanta Majumdar addressed a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, urging intervention to address the situation in Sandeshkhali.
In response, TMC MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar accused the BJP of diverting attention from legitimate demands, particularly those related to MNREGA dues.