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Villagers narrate how Shahjahan’s kin grew pisciculture business in Sandeshkhali using political clout

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Kolkata, Feb 24 (IANS) As the overall ambience remains tense in West Bengal’s Sandeshkhali area, with Section 144 imposed in pockets and route marches by the state police continuing, the villagers have started complaining that Sheikh Sirajuddin, the younger brother of absconding Trinamool Congress leader Sheikh Shahjahan had grabbed their lands at throwaway prices and expanded the family’s pisciculture business by exploiting his brother’s political clout.This week a group of agitated villagers burnt down a warehouse situated on a pisciculture farm owned by Sirajuddin, which prompted senior cops of the state police to rush to the spot and attempt to cool down the simmering anger of the villagers and convince them not to break the law.However, the villagers clearly told the media persons camped there that the oppression against them would continue unless Shahjahan, the mastermind behind the attack on ED and CAPF personnel on January 5, is arrested.Describing how Sheikh Sirajuddin used to usurp their land, a local woman protester said, “First Sirajuddin’s men used to identify the farmland in the area where they wanted to set up their pisciculture farm and approach the owner. If the landowner agreed to sell the land they were given a nominal amount in return.“However, if they did not sell then arm-twisting tactics were used. The fertility of the farmland was destroyed by flooding it with salt water. After that, the landowner concerned had no other option but to sell it to Sirajuddin at a throwaway price.”Although the state police have opened camps to register complaints of the landowners on this count, the villagers do not seem to have much confidence in police given their past experiences.“Whenever we used to approach the local police with any complaints against the Trinamool leader’s brother, we were asked to approach Shahjahan and his associates to sort out the matter,” said another villager.Additional Director General (ADG) of police, South Bengal said that till date there is no official or written complaint against Sirajuddin and assured appropriate action once any specific complaint was filed.However, the terrified villagers are reluctant to come forward right now.–IANSsrc/rad

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