May 28, 2024

A section of women protestors allegedly dragged the local TMC activist from a house and beat him up in the presence of the party’s Sandeshkhali MLA Sukumar Mahata (Photo: PTI)

BJP workers on Sunday demonstrated against the circulation of purported videos “to malign the image” of saffron party leaders in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali, and allegedly heckled the local TMC legislator for spreading “misinformation” over complaints of sexual abuse, lodged by women in the area.

They also beat up a local TMC activist in Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district for allegedly being involved in “disseminating false information about atrocities on women” in the area.

Led by BJP’s Basirhat Lok Sabha constituency candidate Rekha Patra, the protestors demonstrated in front of Sandeshkhali Police station, also demanding the release of a party activist arrested in a “false dacoity” case.

Patra accused police of “slapping trumped-up charges on BJP activists” in Sandeshkhali, while “turning a blind eye to the filming and circulation of fake videos” implicating her party leaders and women in the area.

A section of women protestors allegedly dragged the local TMC activist from a house and beat him up in the presence of the party’s Sandeshkhali MLA Sukumar Mahata who was there for campaigning, a leader of the ruling party claimed.

As Mahata tried to intervene he was allegedly shoved by the protestors, he said.

Mahata blamed Patra and her supporters for “orchestrating” the attack on the local TMC activist, stating that the “BJP’s gameplan to defame Bengal is clear before the people of the state”.

“The BJP broke all precedents and tried to disrupt our campaign but we did not retaliate,” he said.

A team of police personnel rushed to the spot and managed to rescue the TMC activist.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata had been on the boil in February with protests over allegations of sexual abuse and land grab against now arrested TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters.

In a purported video that surfaced from Sandeshkhali on Saturday night, a local BJP leader was heard saying that over 70 women had received Rs 2,000 each for taking part in protests against local TMC satrap Sheikh and his aides who were accused of sexual assault and land grab.

In the video, lasting over 45 minutes, a man resembling BJP’s Sandeshkhali mandal president Gangadhar Kayal told this to the questioner.

It was Kayal who had earlier said in another purported clip, the first in a series in the past week, that the rape allegations were staged.

PTI did not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.

One of the women, who demonstrated outside the police station, denied the allegation, and said, “Were we protesting in February for money? The TMC are making false claims”.

Patra, the BJP candidate for the Basirhat Lok Sabha seat, alleged that a saffron party worker in the area was “arrested on a false dacoity charge but many TMC activists, allegedly involved in atrocities on women, are roaming around freely”.

Branding the BJP as a “violent” party, TMC spokesperson and state minister Shashi Panja said, “TMC poll campaigners are being attacked by BJP candidate from Basirhat, Rekha Patra, and her followers in Sandeshkhali after the conspiracy hatched by the BJP has come to light.”

The incident of attack on the TMC activist and the party MLA took place on the day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to West Bengal and “possibly under his instruction”, the state minister alleged.

BJP candidate for Baranagar assembly bypoll and party’s spokesperson Sajal Ghosh said the incident reflected the simmering anger of people of Sandeshkhali against TMC.

“The assault on the TMC activist and manhandling of the local MLA is just a pointer. More such incidents may follow if the TMC does not stop bringing disgrace to the mothers and sisters of Sandeshkhali by releasing such fake videos,” he said.

TMC’s “diabolical gameplan” to deflect attention from the atrocities on women by its leaders in the area will backfire, Ghosh told reporters.

Patra, before being fielded by BJP, was at the forefront of the series of agitation by women in Sandeshkhali in February and March.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 12 2024 | 11:48 PM IST