The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday ordered a court-monitored Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged incidents of sexual assault and land grabbing by suspended Trinamool Congress leader Shahjahan Sheikh in Sandeshkhali, in the state’s North 24 Parganas district, PTI reported.

A division bench of Chief Justice TS Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya was hearing public interest litigations seeking an independent investigation into the allegations.

The court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a comprehensive report on the alleged illegal conversion of agricultural land to water bodies for pisciculture by May 2, reported PTI.

The bench also directed the central agency to set up a portal where complaints will be lodged to ensure confidentiality and provide security to victims and witnesses in the case, reported The Indian Express.

“In the event the complaints disclose cognisable offence, CBI shall proceed in accordance with law,” the order said.

At the previous hearing on April 4, advocate Priyanka Tibrewal, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party and one of the petitioners in the case, demanded that the investigation be transferred to a court-monitored commission authorised to receive complaints from the residents of Sandeshkhali and compile them for the court.

Submitting the affidavits of women who were allegedly affected by the violence, Tiberwal said that several government officials, including police officers and land officials were involved in the breakdown of law and order in the region.

The case

Sheikh was arrested by the police on February 29 in connection with a case about an assault on Enforcement Directorate officials. He is currently in the Enforcement Directorate’s custody.

A mob allegedly attacked the Enforcement Directorate officials with stones, bricks and batons when they arrived to raid the Trinamool leader’s home on January 5.

Following this, several local women accused Sheikh and his associates of torturing and sexually harassing them over several years, and also of grabbing their lands for prawn cultivation.

The women held protests demanding that Sheikh and two of his associates, Shiba Prasad Hazra and Uttam Sardar, be immediately arrested. They alleged that Sheikh and his associates used to survey homes to look for young women, whom they would take to the party office and sexually assault.

Sardar was arrested on February 10, hours after being suspended by the Trinamool Congress for six years.

Hazra was arrested on February 17, a day after the West Bengal Police added sections 376D (gangrape) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code to the first information report against him and Sardar.