The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday set aside the promulgation of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC at Sandeshkhali, which has been witnessing protests over the last one week over alleged atrocities on villagers by some people owing allegiance to the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The court observed that instead of exhausting all their efforts to quell protests by, at best, lathi-wielding village women, the police authorities need to fix their priorities better and look for the two alleged prime perpetrators of crimes.
“Only if they are hauled up, can the tortured women of the village muster enough courage to lodge all their complaints,” the court said in its order while setting aside the promulgation of Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting assembly of five or more persons in Sandeshkhali police station area in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
Justice Jay Sengupta directed that if such complaints are made by them, the authorities will also inquire about alleged wrongdoings by police personnel as well, “whether for abetment of such crimes or for destruction of evidence.”
He directed the police authorities to keep a sharp vigil and deploy more armed personnel in the area for keeping peace and use modern technology like drone cameras to conduct surveillance.
A petition was filed by two residents of Sandeshkhali seeking a direction from the court for lifting the prohibitory orders promulgated in the area since February 9.
The petitioner’s counsel Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya claimed that the foundation of promulgation of the prohibitory orders in Sandeshkhali was not there and that it was done to curtail the rights of people to protest.
He claimed that of the three persons accused of perpetrating atrocities on the villagers, only Uttam Sardar was arrested, while Shajahan Sheikh and Shiba Prasad Hazra, all owing allegiance to the ruling dispensation in the state, were yet to be traced.
Bhattacharya alleged that the atrocities ranged from land grabbing to sexual exploitation.
“The atrocities on the villagers by three prime miscreants belonging to the ruling political dispensation, as alleged, are absolutely repulsive and heart wrenching,” the court observed.
The state opposed the prayer for lifting the prohibitory orders claiming that a large number of women had gathered and apprehension was there of breach of peace. It was also claimed that violence was allegedly perpetrated from some such agitations by them.
Sandeshkhali, which grabbed headlines when some Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials were attacked by a mob when they went to search the premises of Trinamool Congress leader Shajahan Sheikh on January 5, has been witnessing protests for the last one week over allegations of atrocities on women and land grabbing by goons owing allegiance to the ruling party.