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Mamata Banerjee maintains silence on Sheikh Shahjahan’s arrest

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Kolkata, Feb 29

At a time when a section of Trinamool Congress leaders and the state’s administrative machinery are going all-out to give credit to the state police for the arrest of Sheikh Shahjahan, the accused mastermind behind the attack on ED and CAPF teams at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district on January 5, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday chose to maintain silence on the issue.

Shahjahan, who was arrested from Minakhah in North 24 Parganas district late on Wednesday night after being on the run for 55 days, was remanded to 10-day police custody by a district court on Thursday.

Soon after that, state Education Minister Bratya Basu announced that Shahjahan, a Trinamool strongman in Sandeshkhali who’s also accused of harassing villagers in the trouble-torn area, has been suspended from the party for six years.

Addressing an administrative review meeting in Bankura on Thursday, Chief Minister Banerjee remained silent in the matter of Shahjahan’s arrest.

Political observers feel that Banerjee not commenting on Shahjahan’s arrest is significant since she had changed her stand regarding the latter twice in the last 15 days.

On February 15, while addressing the budget session of the Assembly, the Chief Minister had held the Enforcement Directorate (ED), whose officers along CAPF personnel were reportedly beaten up at Sandeshkhali, as responsible for the ongoing tension there.

She had also alleged that the ED team had gone to Sandeshkhali targeting Shahjahan and with the intention of creating trouble in the area.

However, Banerjee’s tone had changed when she was addressing an administrative review meeting on Wednesday, when she said she never nurtures or supports injustice.

“I do not want oppression or bloodshed anywhere. I do not indulge in injustice. If something happens beyond my knowledge, I do not support that,” the Chief Minister had said.

Political observers feel that her comments on Wednesday were probably the first indication that the Trinamool is starting to distance itself from Shahjahan, a theory that grew stronger following the arrest and subsequent suspension of the latter from the party.

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