Sandeshkhali crisis: NCST seeks report from Bengal CS and DGP

by IANS |

Kolkata, Feb 21 (IANS) The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has sought reports from West Bengal chief secretary B.P. Gopalika and acting director general of state police Rajeev Kumar on the ongoing crisis at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district over sexual harassment allegations against local Trinamool Congress leaders.

NCST has also communicated to the state secretariat that a field-inspection team of the commission will visit Sandeshkhali on Thursday.

In a letter to the CS and DGP, the commission has clearly stated that unless a detailed report on the Sandeshkhali crisis is available within the next 72 hours, both will have to personally appear in front of the commission at New Delhi. The commission has sought details of the action taken by the state government over complaints of harassment at Sandeshkhali.

NCST is the fourth central commission after the National Commission of Scheduled Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Women (NCW) and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) which have directly intervened in the crisis at Sandeshkhali.

Political observers are of the opinion that the nature of the ongoing crisis at Sandeshkhali is so varied that it has opened the avenues for multiple central commissions to intervene in the matter.

“Since principal case is the allegation of sexual harassment, the NCW has rightly stepped in the matter. Secondly, since many of the victims both in cases of illegal land grabbing and sexual harassment hail from the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe community, the factor has opened avenues for both NCSC and NCST to intervene. Finally, the recent event of an infant being snatched from her mother’s arms and flung casually has rightly prompted NCPCR to intervene,” a city- based political observer pointed out.

Recently, NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma after visiting Sandeshkhali and interacting with victim women, she has observed that President’s rule is the only alternative considering the kind of atrocities, violence and sexual harassment.

“I spoke to the women there today. I have received a total of 18 complaints, out of which two are rape complaints. The local women have no faith in the state police. The women were in tears while they were narrating their harassment stories. So in my opinion, President’s rule is the only alternative,” Sharma said.

Earlier, chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Arun Halder had sought President’s rule in the state.

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