Section 144 imposed in 19 areas of Sandeshkhali after tension hits

Kolkata: Section 144 has been imposed again in 19 pockets in tension-hit Sandeshkhali in West Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district from Wednesday.

The development surfaces just a day after Calcutta High Court’s single-judge bench of Justice Jay Sengupta, on Tuesday, quashed the earlier notification of the administration to impose Section 144 almost in the entire Sandeshkhali.

Justice Sengupta quashed the earlier notification on grounds that such prohibitory orders can be issued only at places identified as troubled zones. Now taking a lesson from that order, the administration has issued a fresh notification imposing Section 144 in 19 different pockets at Sandeshkhali.

While in the previous notification, Section 144 was imposed in both Sandeshkhali-1 and Sandeshkhali-II blocks, in the fresh notification the 19 pockets where the prohibitory orders will be enforced are restricted in Sandeshkhali-II block only.

Sources said that in the fresh notification only those 19 pockets have been brought under the prohibitory orders where the protests by women since last Thursday pressing for the arrest of absconding Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan and his associates had been the most.

There are multiple allegations against Shahjhan and his associates which include forceful grabbing of land of local villagers, forcing them to provide free labour in the businesses run by them and even sexual harassment of local women.

Already a team of the National Commission of Women (NCW) has done a round of field-inspection at Sandeshkhali. A team from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) is slated to conduct a similar field-inspection there on Thursday.

Calcutta High Court’s single-judge bench of Justice Apurba Sinha Roy had taken suo motu cognizance of the developments at Sandeshkhali and approved hearings on two separate cases in the matter.

The single-judge bench also directed the state government to file a report to the court before the next date of hearing. The matter will be heard again on February 20.

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