“Made To Sign Blank Paper”: Sandeshkhali Woman Alleges Fake Rape Complaint

The Sandeshkhali row has emerged as one of the top talking points in Bengal this election

Kolkata:

In another twist to the Sandeskhali row, a woman has alleged that people linked with the BJP made her sign a blank paper and then wrote a false rape complaint in her name. The development has intensified the political blame game between the ruling Trinamool and the BJP, which has been playing up the Sandeshkhali issue in the election season.

Speaking to the media, a Sandeshkhali resident said that the day a team of the National Commission for Women visited the island, a woman named Piyali called them to share their complaints. “I told them that we had not received money as part of the 100 days’ job scheme. I only wanted that money and had no other complaint. No rape happened. She (Piyali) made us sign on a blank sheet,” the woman said, adding that she later came to know that she is on the list of women who alleged rape by local Trinamool leaders.

The woman’s daughters-in-law accused Piyali of defaming Sandeshkhali. “She is an outsider, she has come from somewhere else and talks big. We don’t know how she has information about everyone here. Initially, she would just take part in the protests here. We later came to know she is with the BJP. She should be punished for lying to us and trapping us. I’m sure more people were deceived like this,” they said.┬áThe woman and her family said they are now receiving threats for coming out against Piyali.

The Trinamool Congress, which was on the backfoot after local party leaders were accused of rape, land grab and extortion, has latched on to the woman’s allegations and accused the BJP of cooking up stories to malign the ruling party for political gains.

Trinamool MP Sushmita Dev alleged that the BJP is threatening the “courageous women of Sandeshkhali for daring to speak out against them”. “How much longer will this party persist in spinning webs of deceit, shamelessly trampling on the dignity of our mothers and sisters for their own political greed?” she asked.

The BJP hit back, describing Trinamool’s allegations as a damage control exercise that has come too late. Party spokesperson Priyanka Tibrewal said the Trinamool must understand that there is no use crying over spilt milk. “Why is Trinamool responding now? Why were they quiet for two-three months. They earlier said the women (of Sandeshkhali) were lying, now they are saying they were made to lie. Whatever damage had to happen has happened. There is no smoke without fire,” she told NDTV.

The Trinamool Congress has now registered a complaint with the Election Commission against several BJP leaders, including Suvendu Adhikari, Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, accusing them of levelling fabricated allegations in the Sandeshkhali matter.

The nondescript island in North 24 Parganas made headlines in February when local residents accused strongman Sheikh Shahjahan and his aides of harassing them. Shahjahan, now expelled by the Trinamool Congress, was arrested after he was on the run for over a month in a case relating to a mob attack on Enforcement Directorate officials probing him. He is now in the CBI’s custody.

In a shocking twist in the Sandeskhali row last week, a video of a local BJP leader started doing the rounds. The video showed Gangadhar Koyal purportedly admitting that no rapes or sexual harassment took place in Sandeshkhali and that women were convinced to file such complaints at the directions of Mr Adhikari.

The BJP and the leader in the video have claimed that the clip was doctored and his voice edited. A police complaint has also been filed.