Sandeshkhali violence: Calcutta High Court directs CBI probe into crimes against women

The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday directed a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe into the alleged crimes against women and forcible land grabbing in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali, which had witnessed protests over the issues.

A division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya directed the CBI to lodge a comprehensive report on the alleged illegal conversion of agricultural land into water bodies for pisciculture after carrying out a thorough inspection of revenue records and physical inspection of land alleged to be converted. 

The court also mentioned that the investigation will be monitored by the court.  Furthermore, the Calcutta High Court directed the CBI to submit a comprehensive report to it at the next hearing. The Court also ordered that the administration shall install CCTV cameras at sensitive places in the area and that street lights and LED lights shall also be installed. The bench added that the matter will be heard again on May 2. 

Previously, the same division bench had transferred the probe into the attack on ED officials by former Trinamool leader Shahjahan Sheikh men in Sandeshkhali to the CBI.

At this present juncture, the Court was considering various pleas for an independent investigation into the allegations of rape and land grabbing which came to light after the attack on the ED convoy made national headlines. The High Court bench had reserved its orders on the issue on an earlier date.

The Chief Justice had verbally remarked that even if 1 percent of the allegations were true, then the state should owe moral responsibility. While dealing with the submissions by Sheikh’s counsel, the Court stated that since his custody had been transferred to the CBI, he could approach the relevant authorities in a lawful manner, but that the accused had no right to be heard in the present proceedings.

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