KOLKATA: In a surprising turn of events, Section 144 was enforced and internet services were halted today in the Sandeshkhali region of North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal following violent protest by residents on Friday.
The protest turned violent after the locals demanded the apprehension of Trinamool Congress leader Seikh Shajahan and his associates, who are currently absconding.
Friday saw unrestraint protests spearheaded by local women with sticks and brooms in their hands who marched through various parts of Sandeshkhali area as the demonstration gained momentum on its second day.
The women protesters also conducted a sit-in outside the Sandeshkhali police station for several hours. They concluded the demonstration around 7 pm, declaring their intention to resume protests on Saturday.
According to the police, the residence of Shiboprasad Hazra, an associate of Shajahan, was vandalized in the afternoon, with some furniture set on fire. Additionally, a poultry farm owned by Hazra in Zeliakhali was also engulfed in flames, as reported by the police.
Meanwhile, the police said that eight individuals were apprehended in relation to the vandalism. During a press briefing, Additional Director-General (Law and Order) Manoj Verma implored the public not to resort to vigilantism and to abide by the law.
Last month, Shajahan disappeared following an incident where a mob attacked a team from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) during a raid on his residence in connection with an alleged ration scam.
The women protesters claimed that Shajahan and his "gang" forcibly seized large portions of land and subjected them to sexual harassment.
In the meantime, supporters of Shajahan also mobilized, escalating the already tense situation. The TMC alleged that the BJP and CPI (M) were inciting the populace to provoke unrest in the region.
Refuting the claims, the BJP said that the incident resulted from pent-up frustration among the populace.