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Section 144 imposed, internet banned at violence-hit Sandeshkhali in Bengal

The police have imposed Section 144 at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal which is on the boil since Thursday over a series of protests by the local people, especially women, demanding immediate arrest of absconding Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan — the mastermind behind the January 5 attack on ED and CAPF personnel — and his followers.

The police administration has also banned use of the internet in the area till the time the situation gets normalised. Imposition of Section 144 and the ban on internet will go on simultaneously in the area under 16 panchayats scattered over the two blocks of Sandeshkhali-I and Sandeshkhali-II.

Since the attack on January 4, Shahjahan has been absconding besides ducking the ED summons for appearance at the central agency’s Salt Lake office.

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Meanwhile, during the last two days, the local people, mostly women, had been hitting the streets again and again demanding the arrest of Shahjahan and his close associates. The women had become vocal on how their lives were being tormented by the associates of the absconding leader, who used to illegally and forcefully grab small pieces of lands owned by them.

Some of the women protesters even became vocal on how they were scared to come out of their residences after sunset fearing humiliation and molestation as such incidents were regular in the area.

On Friday night, the local people staged protests in front of the Sandeshkhali police station. Although they dispersed later, the police did not take any further risk and decided to impose Section 144 and ban the use of the internet in the troubled pockets.

A huge police contingent, including personnel from the Rapid Action Force (RPF) and combat force, has already marched at Sandeshkhali and is patrolling in the area. As per the latest report, the streets of Sandeshkhali wear a deserted look as all the shops are closed.

However, the police administration is not ruling out fresh recurrence of trouble as the day passes.

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