Union Minister Smriti Irani today criticized the Mamata Banerjee government over the allegations against women in South Bengal's Sandeshkhali, stating that “young Hindu married women” are being targeted by Trinamool Congress criminals. The state is in the eye of a political storm over allegations by women, who have accused a local Trinamool leader of systematic sexual exploitation. The man in question, Zilla Parishad member Sheikh Shajahan – also accused of land grabbing – is on the run. He is also wanted by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with an alleged PDS scam.
Sandeshkhali, an island in Sundarbans close to the Bangladesh border, has been placed under prohibition orders banning large gatherings.
“Young married Hindu women are being deliberately targeted,” Irani alleged, reading out what she said was the woman's version of events as told to local media.
That Mamata Banerjee 'will now allow her men to pick young, married Hindu women to be raped night after night in the TMC office cannot be expressed in words. Can we as citizens be mute spectators?' she said.
In recent days, a large number of women in Sandeshkhali, armed with sticks and brooms, have protested, alleging that Sheikh Shajahan and his 'gang' have forcibly seized swaths of land and are sexually exploiting them.
In a video not verified by NDTV and widely circulated online, a woman claims they are dragged to the Trinamool office, kept overnight and sexually assaulted.
The women have demanded the arrest of Sheikh Shajahan, who has been on the run since an Enforcement Directorate team raided his house last month in connection with an alleged ration fraud case. The team was attacked by a mob.
Ms Irani said the agency has issued a police statement that three of its officials were injured in stone throwing in Sandeshkhali.
Earlier today, senior BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari and other party MLAs were prevented from visiting the area by police, who cited the prohibitory orders.
Governor CV Ananda Bose later visited Sandeshkhali after which he said he would “do everything in my power to help”.
“When I heard about shocking and shocking incidents in Sandeshkhali, I cut short my visit to Kerala. I am going to Sandeskhali and want to see for myself what the real sandesh (message) from the gullies (alleys) of Sandeshkhali is,” he said. at Kolkata airport this morning.
Mamata Banerjee welcomed his visit and told reporters today that “the people responsible for the violence have been arrested as much as possible”.
She said the state women commission also visited the area and spoke to the people.