Kolkata: In an unprecedented incident with potential far-reaching consequences, officials from the Enforcement Directorate (ED) faced a violent attack while attempting to conduct a raid at the residence of Shahjahan Sheikh, a Trinamool Congress leader and close aide to an arrested minister in the Sandeshkhali area of North 24 Parganas. The raid was related to the ongoing investigation into the ration distribution scam in Bengal, where nearly 30% of the Public Distribution System (PDS) ration meant for beneficiaries was diverted to the open market.
The attack, allegedly carried out by followers of the Trinamool leader, targeted not only the ED officials but also central armed forces personnel accompanying the raid and members of the media covering the operation. Vehicles in the raiding convoy were ransacked, news equipment was damaged, and journalists and support staff were admitted to a local hospital for medical attention.
Horrific. The Law & Order Situation in West Bengal is in shambles.
ED Officials & CRPF Jawans brutally attacked in Sandeshkhali; North 24 Parganas district, while conducting Raid at TMC leader Sheikh Shahjahan's house.
I doubt that Rohingyas are present amongst the Anti National… pic.twitter.com/XHboQsBVSX
— Suvendu Adhikari • শুভেন্দু অধিকারী (@SuvenduWB) January 5, 2024
Shahjahan Sheikh is closely associated with state minister Jyotipriyo Mallick, who was arrested in connection with the multi-crore ration distribution scam. The violence escalated when the ED team attempted to raid Shahjahan’s residence, and local residents, including Trinamul supporters, protested the lack of prior intimation.
The situation turned chaotic when the agitating mob attacked the ED officials, forcing them to flee the spot. CRPF personnel providing security were outnumbered, leading to their withdrawal. Media personnel were also targeted, and the village’s entry points were blocked, creating a volatile situation.
Political reactions varied, with the leader of the Opposition in the Bengal Assembly, Suivendu Adhikari, expressing concern over the law and order situation and demanding intervention. BJP spokesperson Shamik Bhattacharya alleged Shahjahan’s involvement in illegal activities, including smuggling and sheltering Rohingyas, adding further complexity to the incident.
Junior Union Minister of Home and Cooch Behar MP Nisith Pramanik criticized the attack on central probe teams and emphasized the need for state responsibility in providing security.