New Delhi:

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) today registered a case against Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan, the central figure in the Sandeshkhali row in West Bengal, on money laundering charges. 

Raids are underway at Sheikh Shahjahan’s house and six other locations. 

The women in Sandeshkhali have accused Sheikh Shahjahan of involvement in land-grabbing activities and perpetrating sexual assault, allegedly through coercive means.

Shahjahan has been evading law enforcement since a mob, allegedly linked to him, attacked ED officials during a search operation related to a ration scam on January 5. The incident not only heightened tensions but also raised concerns about the influence and power wielded by Shahjahan and his supporters in the region.

The situation has led to a crackdown by the state police, resulting in the arrest of Shahjahan’s aides, Shibu Hazra and Uttam Sardar. However, Shahjahan remains missing. With 17 arrests made so far, the police are urging villagers to come forward with their complaints, organising camps in the area to address concerns related to land grab and extortion.

The BJP has accused the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress of shielding its strongman.

In response, the TMC accused the ED of provoking the locals. The Ministry of Home Affairs subsequently sought a detailed report from the West Bengal government regarding the attacks.

These recent raids are part of the wider investigation into an alleged ration scam in the state, with former food and civil supplies minister Jyotipriya Mallick already in custody since October 2023.

The Calcutta High Court has instructed a collaborative Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and West Bengal Police to probe the assault on ED officials in Sandeshkhali. 

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