Sandeshkhali Fact-finding Report, 2024

In order to understand the nature of the Sandeshkhali movement, to understand the oppression, torture and human rights violations of the police-administration and the land grabbers of the political leadership, labour organisations, women’s organisations, human rights organisations and field research teams conducted fact-finding in some villages of Sandeshkhali block I and II of North 24 Paraganas District on February 24 and March 8. Here is an extract from that field study.

                                                     Sandeshkhali Fact-finding Report


Conducted by Paschimbanga Khet Majoor Samity, Shramajibi Mahila Samity, Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) and Aamra Ek Sachetan Prayas

Published by- Paschimbanga Khet Majoor Samity Shramajivee Mahila Samity

Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) Aamra Ek Sachetan Prayas


Fact-finding Team- Vijaya Chand, Debasish Bhattacherya, Dipyaman Adhikary, Suchitra Haldar, Mayarani Sardar, Khadija Khatun, Saroj Kumar Mondal, Habib, Manju Gayen, Diptangshu Kar, Maya Sardar, Mohit Ranadip, Samindra Sarkar, Amitava Sengupta, Upama Nirjharini and Subha Protim Roy Chowdhury.


Edited by- Subha Protim Roy Chowdhury


Translated by- Suman Nath and Anuradha Talwar


Cover Design and Page setup- Nirupam Das Adhikary


First Edition- 22 March, 2024

Venue- Kolkata Press Club, Kolkata

Second Edition- 14 April, 2024




Jab zulm-o-sitam ke koh-e-garaan

Rui ki tarah ud jayenge

Hum mehkumoon ke paun tale

Yeh dharti dhad dhad dhadkagi

Aur ehl-e-hukum ke sar upar

Jab bijli kad kad kadkegi

Hum Dekhenge


When the enormous mountains of tyranny blow away like cotton.

Under our feet- the feet of the oppressed-

When the earth will pulsate deafeningly

and when lightning will strike

on the heads of our rulers

We will see



That day will come. We will see. We do not know how many days it will last now! We do not know whether all injustice will go away! We don’t even know whether this spontaneous protest movement of the people of Sandeshkhali will be stuck in the narrow politics! When politics of this time means communalism, politics means corruption. When Parliament polls are looming, religious processions are a political project that can be used to polarize and incite violence. In spite of all these disappointments, Sandeshkhali brought us a message of protest at the beginning of 2024. Like the poem of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, the soil of the island kept shaking under the feet of protesting people.



We have to go back in history to know how an undisturbed hege- mony of power prevailed throughout the Sandeshkhali region. This his- tory is simultaneously a history of power and mass resistance against it. Let’s start from the year of 1903, Daniel Hamilton was given 4 areas in lease in what is now known as Sandeshkhali. Sandeshkhali used to be a part of the Greater Sundarbans. Daniel Hamilton was awarded a knight- hood because of his work in clearing the forest and making it habitable.

At that time, the local Zamindars (landlords) demanded one third of the total product from the farmers as tax. The minions, including the landlord’s private army locally known as Lethel Bahini (the army of stick bearers) of the Zamindar collected this money. The land was quite fertile and the yield was good because of the hard labor of the farmers. The Zaminders became greedy and started collecting more than they were supposed to.


Over a period of time, fed up with these increasing demands, the poor farmers also started to organize themselves. They refused to give three fourth of their yield to the zamindars. A war began of the police and the private army of the zamindar with the farmer .This was popularly known as ‘Tebhaga Movement’. It was a significant peasant movement (1946-47) spreads in undivided Bengal.

The movement started from Bermajur, Rampur, Durgamandap and Rajbari and it spread like rapid fire throughout Bengal. On 8th March, 1947, the kachhari (tax collection office) house of the Zamindar Deben- dranath Sardar was set ablaze by the angry mob. Several people died on the spot, succumbing to bullet injuries and indiscriminate beatings by the hired goons. People still say that River Kalagachi ran red, as did sev- eral paddy fields, with the blood of the people who were slaughtered. . Hemanta Ghoshal, the leader to the movement, was followed by people like Ratiram Sardar, Rabiram Sardar, Chamu Bishal, Parul Sardar, Batasi Sardar and several others. All of them died. People came from villag- es like Narauria, Shakda, Rajbari and Patharghata. Injured people along with the dead bodies were thrown into the river. Sandeshkhali became epicenter of violent protest. People across the length and breadth of the country came to know about this little known place.

The Tebhaga movement was a class struggle in true sense. People across religion, caste and creed participated against the Jamindar and Jo- tedars. When police fired on Samsuddin and he died in Dinajpur, a tribal young man Shibram became angry. He took up a bow and arrow against the police and eventually died of a bullet injury [Nirmal Basu, September 14, 2015, Anandabazar; Sanjay Patutundu, May 1, 2022, Shramajibi Bhasha].


Following the steps of ‘Samsuddin-Shibram’, a protest has begun again this year in February, 2024, in Sandeshkhali. News of the protests has spread like fire in the print and social media. People have set fire to the poultry farm of Seikh Sajahan, Uttam Sardar and Shibaprasad Hazra. Again, people are protecting their villages with night guards, they are driving off armed goons. Sandeshkhali is witnessing posters demanding the arrest of Sajahan and his followers today, people like Nimai Sardar, Uttara Sardar, Kalim Seikh, and Debu Mondal have raised their voices. Sandeshkhali is rising!

But if we look at the recent events, we have to look back. Last October, 2023, Trinamool leader and West Bengal Minister (once Minister of Food and Supplies) Jyotipriya Mallick was arrested. The arrest of Mal- lick by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on October 27 over an alleged public distribution system (PDS) scam has sparked a political row and raised questions on what the irregularities are. It was alleged that Sheikh Shahjahan was one of the influential leaders connected to his network in various areas. Sheikh Shahjahan is one such person who was close to the power during the CPM era and changed colour overnight after the change of government. Needless to say, his dominance increased manifold under TMC rule. He became the ultimate ruler in Sandeshkhali area under TMC hierarchy. When the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raided his house on January 5, ED and central forces came under attack from his supporters. Some ED officials were injured. ‘Seikh Sahajahan’ became a matter of discussion and controversy in the state and national media. How Sahajan and his force controlled over entire two blocks of Sandesh khali, how a nexus among Land grabber, Land department and Administration was coordinated under his leadership- came to limelight. State wise people’s reaction on land grabbing, forceful fisheries, transactions of millions of rupees, commission-raj came to the news. This news also came to Sandeshkhali.

Meanwhile, people’s anger was burning. On February 7, when the ‘ruler’ of Shahjahan’s designated area, Uttam Sardar, came to threaten people in Patrapara as usual, the people first erupted in anger. Shah Jahan’s ‘goon army’ still did not understand what was going to happen. It was their experience so far that people cannot resist as this is their ter- ritory, their intimidation is sufficient for the villagers. However, script was differently written on that day. Perhaps this is how rebellion comes in the text of history. More than three decades of left rule that came to Nandigram. The resistance of Sandeshkhali also spread to nearby village panchayats, Jeliakhali, Bermajur. The area map of resistance continued to grow day by day. The police continued to arrest and file false cases. 55 days after the attack on ED, the state police arrested Sheikh Shahjahan. His accomplices Uttam Sardar and Shivprasad Hazra were arrested on February 10 and 17 respectively.

In order to understand the nature of the movement, to understand the oppression, torture and human rights violations of the police-administration and the land grabbers of the political leadership, labour organizations, women’s organizations, human rights organizations and field research teams conducted fact-finding in some villages of Sandeshkhali block I and II on February 24 and March 8. Here is an extract from that field study.


Geographical location of Sandeshkhali

Sandeshkhali is located in the lower Gangetic delta. It is part of Ich- hamati-Raymangal plains. Mangroves, wild animals, unpredictable rivers and tribal people coming from outside represented what Sandeshkhali used to be. Today, it has experienced substantive changes. Sandeskha- li has two blocks, Sandeshkhali 1 and Sandeskhali 2. The population is about 300,000. There are about 16 Gram Panchayats falling under these two blocks, however, it has only one Police Station. The violence and pro- tests in recent time have erupted mainly in Sandeshkhali 2 block. In this block, there is an island surrounded by rivers Betnai River on the north, Dasha River on the North East, Kalagachi River in the South-West and Raimangal River in the South East. Villages belonging to Sandeshkhali Gram Panchayat are located here. The protest started in this island and eventually spread to adjacent Gram Panchayats like Jeliakhali and Bermajur.

A team of researcher- activists from a trade union, a women’s or- ganisations, a human rights organisation and a field research organisa- tion have carried the field based research with local data collection on 24th February and 8th March. The aim was to understand the nature of movement, mechanisms of exploitation by the networks of police-ad- ministration and land grabbers and finally the extent of violence and hu- man rights violation in the region.

and land grabbers and finally the extent of violence and human rights violation in the region.


                                                   Sandeshkhali Gram Panchayat area


Sandeskhali is surrounded by rivers. If anyone wants to go the cities and suburbs, s/he has to use the ferry. A few schools, a couple of health centers, broken and half broken roads indicate the lack of attention from the government. People depend on Kolkata or Khulna in Bangladesh for health facilities. While most of the villagers are farmers, people have started taking up the role of wage earners in sectors like carpentry, mason and fisheries in the last decade. Distress migration has led several youngsters to leave the village to earn money. Everywhere, villagers talked about the lack of development and employment opportunities here.


 8 no. Karnakhali Adibasi Hamlet

We talked to the people of Adibasi hamlet, near Karnakhali FP School, not far from the river Betani. One can see poverty everywhere. Land has been grabbed here and is now being reclaimed by their owners. Here too people have raised their voices against the atrocities by Sajahan Seikh and his followers like Shibprasad Hajra and Uttam Sardar. Ev- eryone including the women said that they were forced to attend TMC’s meeting, otherwise they used to be beaten up by them. We started by talking with a few people but then overwhelmingly people started to gather to participate in the conversation.

Despite the fact that the police has lodged complaints against many people after the movement started, there is no police case filed against anyone here. More cases have been lodged against people belonging to 7 Number Para. Several villagers were beaten up about three years back because allegedly they were BJP supporters. Villagers cannot cast their votes, especially in elections when there is no central force deployment. In the last Panchayat Election, the opposition couldn’t file nominations because of continuous violence and threat of violence. Neither the CPIM nor BJP could file nominations at the lower level of block and panchayat in the last Panchayat Election. Candidates were there from these parties only at the Zilla Parishad level. The elected representative who is from Karnakhali Puratan Hamlet, keeps on winning uncontested.


The farm houses of the land grabbers, which are about a kilometer from this hamlet have been destroyed. By the local people. Similar destruction has happened in the Colony hamlet. Mostly Bhumij people stay in this Adibasi hamlet (tribal colony), and they are Scheduled Tribes with caste certificates.

Even ration dealers follow the party’s instructions in delivering food grains. If they are asked about this, the dealers clearly reply saying that everyone has to listen to the party leaders. There is no hospital in the village and if needed, one has to go to Khulna in Bangladesh. The most critical crises often arises with expectant mothers in the night.

More than 75% of the villagers are actively involved in the movement. The movement has been halted because of the Higher Secondary Examinations and people are expecting the return of peace. If not, they say they will protest again and demand for a peaceful solution to the problems. The island was peaceful earlier. Villagers have noted that when the region was ruled by Indian National Congress (henceforth Congress) or Communist Party of India Marxist (henceforth CPIM), no such in- stances of land grab or other malpractices were there. Earlier, even if something undesirable happened, it never went to Police administration, the villagers themselves found a solution. Today, they are called up by men from the TMC party men. A denial means s/he faces severe consequence. If one goes to police, the police instructs them to contact with Shibu Hazra or Seikh Sajahan and settle the matter. There are instances of violence against women. Since, there is a public shame attached to it, women are unable to open up. They are being called for party meetings. Meetings were held inside the school premises. Even if women are called in the middle of night, they have to attend the meeting. Women Self Help Groups like Satadal Nirmal Mission were also called. There are hundreds of such groups here, each with about 10 members. They do not even spare people who are unwell. One of the villagers alleged that there are instances of trafficking of girls.

We asked if any other political parties have been visiting them. They said earlier no leader came, but now slowly a few are coming. Police surveillance is also thereof those who are coming and going. “We do not know who has what intentions, for example, just like we do not know who you are, but we are saying everything to you”.

There has not been any development work here. ’’We are tribal peo- ple, yet no work has been undertaken for us. We never got any facilities under any housing scheme. You must have heard about the corruption related to housing schemes, here, Shibu Hazra has taken away the money for housing schemes, Everyone knows it.”

A few people have got land deeds or pattas1, but most of the people had land but without documents.

1A patta is a land document given to landless people by the State Government under their land redistribution program.

Villagers have requested the BLRO of- fice for pattas several times, but got nothing. What is important for us to note is that most of the lands which people had- whether it had pattas or no documents or proper land records - has been grabbed. “We have no options for jobs, people depend on farming. The river dams are not being maintained properly. Everyone works in the fisheries; powerful groups are involved in politics. All of us are involved in this movement.

Victim’s Testimonies

We were talking in the Singpara village under Sandeshkhali Gram Panchayat beside Rishi Arabinda Mission playground. It is important to note that here, people have wiped off the name of Seikh Sajahan from the wall of a playground. This incident has been well covered by the media as well.

Sujan Gayen

Sujan Gayen is a toto driver. He stays at a locality beside Sandeshkhali Abhijaan Sangha.

Sujan Gayen -  Seikh Sajahan and his team were very violent with us. They often forced us to visit their place, only to beat us up. I used to drive an engine van before. Once, I carried their items, but when I asked for the money, they beat me up. They made me carry items at free of cost. Once, there was an argument with my family about leasing out our land to them. Shibu Hazra pointed a gun at my forehead and asked my parents, if they are ready to lose their son.


Question:         How much land do you have?

Sujan Gayen – Our extended family has a total of 75 Bighas 


[20 Kathas make a bigha , and 3 Bighas make an acre . 1 katha is therefore 1.67 decimals, and 1 bigha is 33 decimals of land] Now the entire land is converted to fisheries.



Question:         Did they snatch the entire land forcefully?

Sujan Gayen:  Yes. They threatened us. They told me that they will simply make our bodies vanish and even police station will not do anything.

Question:         Could you lodge any complain against them? Sujan Gayen: No.

Question:         Did they pay any amount for the land they have taken?

Sujan Gayen:   Only once. For the last two years we have not got any money.

Question:         What was the agreement? Sujan Gayen:      Rs. 6000/- per bigha.

Question:         Now, everyone is protesting on the streets, what is your role in this protest?

Sujan Gayen: We are working unitedly. Police-administration is backing them up. They are filing legal cases against us, since we are protesting.

Question:         Have you had any case registered against you because of the movement?

Sujan Gayen:  Yes, many of us have cases filed against us, including myself.

Question:         What is the complaint against you?

Sujan Gayen:  That we have destroyed the poultry farm and set it ablaze.

When we were having this conversation, someone stopped his bicycle and started talking with us.

Debasish Mondal

They have filed a case against me as well. It is under 360, police told me.

Question:           What did the police say?





Debasish Mondal: That this is the under Section 360 [ Section 360 is invoked when there is human trafficking and conveying beyond the borders of India].

Question:    Your name?

Debasish Mondal: Debasish Mondal, I stay nearby (showed his place of residence)

Question:          Which village? Debasish Mondal: Singpara

Question:          Since when did these kinds of atrocities happen against you people?

Debasish Mondal: For very long, everything was concealed. I am stat- ing this very clearly. Here, Pradhan or Member has no voice. I am the booth president of ruling TMC, but even I do not have a voice. My only task is to bring people and fill up grounds for rallies. Everything else would be done by Seikh Sajahan. Things are different here. If you say anything, they will launch an attack on you. Eventually, later on, people simply refused to attend the meetings and rallies. Then they forcefully shut down the shops and forcefully took Van [Cycle van used for transportation] and Toto [ E-rickshaws] drivers. We have no work, not even MGNREGA job cards. No one really wanted to attend the meetings.

This movement is spontaneous. I am the booth president of booth number 169.

Question:          At least you are saying this today!

Debasish Mondal: What can I do? I have nothing to do (long pause). I cannot do anything. Only ‘Bhai’ can do everything, this is real picture, and there is nothing to hide. If they could run things by forming a body or committee, it would have been better, but he doesn’t like that. He sleeps, then wakes up and says whatever comes to his mind. One day he wakes up and says “Shibu, let’s do a garden here!” Shibu has to do it otherwise, his position would be gone. Things go on like this.

Question:          Now the government is returning the land.

Debasish Mondal: Nothing will happen. They will take it away and pressurize people again. It will take years for people to re- claim their earlier position. You go and attend their meetings, one meeting is going on right now. You won’t find a single person from Sandeskhali. They are bringing people from outside.


They also asked me to join. I refused to join them. I told them “See, people who have looted and taken away money should be there, why I should go? I do not want to be with you. I want to spend my life as an honest person. I don’t want any trouble. It harms one’s social status and prestige.” You can see that I came voluntarily and participated in the conversation. Out of 111 accused my name is also there in serial number 24. You see him, (Sujan Gayen) he is my student, his name is also there. I still teach.

Sudeb Giri

We were talking with labourers near Alaghar [Alaghar means the office of the fishery] of Karnakhali, at number 8 area. When we visited for the first time, some portion of the Alaghar was still there, but during the second visit, we could see that the entire building had been destroyed. We met Sudeb Giri here. In fact, as we ar- rived, the labourers started to talk to us. They were working to clear the irrigation canal. The labourers said that the canal was used to bring water to the fisheries and not for the farming. Last time the Member of Legisla- tive Assembly came and promised that he would enable the canal to carry water to irrigate farm lands, and that is why, the department of irrigation and waterways are now working so fast. Had it been done before, the condition of the canal would have been much better.

Question:          do you work under a contractor?

Sudeb Giri:        No, we are working as wage earners.

Question:          How much money are you owed?

Sudeb Giri:        We five have worked for 32-33 days, all that money is still due. Whenever we asked for the money they beat us up and then again compelled us to work. In fact they beat us up so hard using cane sticks that we couldn’t even walk properly. We never knew that Sibu Hazra has made so much money and created so many properties. Now that things are coming out, the extent of it is being revealed. Although, Shibu, Sajahan and Uttam are in custody, their followers are still there. They are threatening us. Debasish Maity used be the gherer mohuri [Accounts clerk for the fishery]. He is also absconding.

Question:          Do you think that this movement will continue? Will it even survive?

Sudeb Giri:        Of course. We don’t know how long we will live for, but if God wishes this movement will continue.

Question:          What did the MLA say?

Sudeb Giri:        The MLA could recognize me and asked to speak about the problems here. I said, where were you? Do you think that this can happen overnight? I narrated the problems of our dues, land grabbing and then of the way in which protesting villagers are brutally dealt with. They said that they will resolve everything by 24th February. 24th has already been gone, we have got nothing. I also said that after you won the elec- tion you never came here. You said that Sandeskhali is a small incident. Then, what makes you come here? There was no reply, instead they labelled us as outsiders.[Outsiders refers to people who are not from that area but have been brought from other areas for political meetings, protests etc. This is a common allegation made against protestors in West Bengal in order to question the credentials of the movement] 

Question:          Did they say anything about returning your lands?

Sudeb Giri:       They have promised many things, nothing has happened so far.

Question:          For how long has the bheri [Fishery's office] here been in operation? (showing a bheri nearby)

Sudeb Giri:        For three years.

Question:          Is there any lease agreement?

Sudeb Giri:        There has been an Amal Nama [ Amal Nama means a letter or writ of authority for occupying land] for ten years. No- body wants to lease out farm land here, but if you dis- agree you will be called up and taken out from your house in the middle of the night to beat you up. Who will protest? However, we were not shown any agree- ments.

Question:          Why didn’t you go to the administration?

Sudeb Giri:        How can we go the administration? When they were bringing salted water towards our farm land, some people went to the administration to complain. They were beaten up so brutally that some of them they are still bedridden.

Question:          Do you have a copy of the agreement?

Sudeb Giri:        Nothing, They just came and get it signed by us. Only those having large land agreed to the lease, those hav- ing small land, like, 1-2 bighas, were never ready. So they brought people in motorcycles in the night to take people away who would eventually agree to sign because of the pressure.

Question:          What is the rate for lease?

Sudeb Giri:        Rs. 6000/- per bigha. We have still not got two years of lease money, they only pay people who follow them blindly.

Question:          So what work have you undertaken here?

Sudeb Giri:        We are levelling the land. Department of Irrigation will construct proper roads at both sides of the canal so that no more salt water can be brought it.

Question:          What was the purpose of this Alaghar?

Sudeb Giri:        This is the Bheri office. Everything bad you can imag- ine used to happen here. Food alcohol, loud music, everything.

Question:          Is it true that village women were called up here in the night?

Sudeb Giri:        Yes, can you imagine having a meeting at 12:00 in the night? They used to bring the women, compel them to sit for hours behind closed doors.

Kailash Sardar

We talked to Mr. Kailash Sardar at Karnakhali village. He has a hut near the road which leads to the Khulna ghat. He said

“No, they didn’t take our land. However, everywhere they have made bheris and the fertility of our land has gone. Although they didn’t take our land, we are dying in poverty as the land yields nothing now. When I protested against the bringing of saline water to my land, I was beaten up by Uttam Mastan (Uttam Sardar) and Debasish Maity. I cultivate only once in a year and for the rest of the time, I work as a daily labourer. They have beaten me up so brutally that I cannot listen properly. My back has been damaged and I cannot do heavy work and even cannot stand for long durations (he was sobbing)”

Question:                   When did it happen?

Kailash Sardar:         about three years ago.

Question:                    How are you now?

Kailash Sardar:        I cannot do heavy work since then. Question:          

Question-   How do you run the family?

Kailash Sardar:        My son works outside, somehow we are managing.


Bimal Das

We talked to Bimal Das at Daspara. He narrates “They used to call our daughters and wives. They used to call them to a meeting at 12:00 in the night. Some of them have faced harassment as well. We could only cry but couldn’t do anything. Men were not allowed to go in those meetings.

Gautam Paramanik

We talked to him at Kachhari para. He said that the problem cropped up in the last seven year.

“I was the Secretary to the Sandeshkhali Radharani High School. I sold my shop to Uttam Sardar. When I demanded money, he tortured me. When I protested against the intrusion of saline water in farm land, I got beaten up again. I am still working the TMC party, but I do not know for how long I will keep myself associated with them”

“This bringing people to the party office was prevalent even during the CPIM period. But, they used to make us understand and then let us go. They never beat us up. I don’t recall their ever asking for women to come in the night. I demanded what I owe at Sarberia, where Sajahan has an office. They inserted a stick in my anus to torture me.

Lakhhi Aari

She has a small shop at Bhandarpara, just besides the artificial canal which was made to take river water towards the Bheri. This also is an instance of using force for individual benefit.. “We used to live in anxiety, especially in the night. We were scared that Sajahan and his followers might come any moment”

The old lady continued, “My husband was Gunadhar Aari, they tortured him. They didn’t tolerate even the slightest protest against their activities. They beat him up. Debasish Maity, Ram Paramanik, and Lakhhan Paramanik was there to beat him up. In fact my husband died because of those injuries, about two years ago. They have tortured my son as well. My son cannot do heavy work anymore. This shop is our only source of income!”

Kalam Seikh

“I am the president of TMC’s minority cell here. They didn’t even spare me!” Kalam Seikh talked with us on the road. He was going somewhere, but stopped and started to talk to us.

“I do not want TMC to continue ruling here. I want peace. My distant cousin Aamir Gazi snatched away poor Aruna Adhikari’s land and constructed a house there. Aruna couldn’t do anything. The police, admin- istration, Land Revenue office - everything is now controlled by TMC goons.”

“The movement here is an outcome of the spontaneous outburst of peo- ple’s grievances. Amir Gazi had to flee from his home. Sajahan and his followers have unleashed brutal violence all over the Sandeshkhali area. They have grabbed farm land and playground by using government agen- cies. People like Shibu Hazra, Uttam Sardar and Amir Gazi worked under him. Even though I am a TMC worker, I couldn’t accept these atrocities. I have protested many times, not only today. Because I protested they didn’t give me any share out of the extortion money.”

Aruna Adhikari

We met Arnua Adhikari. She stays at Kachhari para with her brothers. She took out the land deed and court papers and started to have a conversation with us.

“We mortgaged our land for money. That man sold our land illegally to Amir Gazi. The land was in my name, but they changed it overnight. I filed a court case, but I couldn’t continue. I am alone, my brother is sick, I cannot run the case in the court.”

A village woman

Pukur para of Sandeshkhali has the large poultry farm of Shibu Hazra. When we reached we found its ruins. People have destroyed it out of their accumulated rage. Here we met her. She continued “You are here, if you go towards the back side, you will find that there are two more farms. I came here about ten years back after my marriage. When I came here, there was a large pond. You see that closed down hospital, it had empty land where cows used graze. There was a playground. They have covered it, converted all of it into a farm. The farm was full of chicken and goats. See there are two/three goats still grazing.”

Question:       Who is the owner of these goats and chicken now?

Answer:      Those who worked in the farm were not given their due wages, so they kept a few.

Question:     Did you work there?

Answer:       No. But, they still owe me Rs. 3500/-, as I have a small tea stall. If you ask for the payment they will beat you up. We had one bigha and eight kotthas of land in the field, which they have grabbed, now it is time to re- claim our land.”

Bharati Saha

Bharati Saha stays alone. Her sons work outside. They used to cultivate their own land, but for the last three years they had to stop. She said that the saline water canal runs beside their land. Shibu Hazra created a temporary dam inside the canal to divert the saline water which then ran through their land making it permanently infertile. Then they have grabbed the land. They were often taken to the ‘night meeting.’ The young boys who earns money by driving toto (e-rickshaw) were also beaten up regularly. In her words “Police station, Panchayat offices were always there to intimidate people, and now politicians are also making life hell.” Her sons bought a piece of land with their hard earned money. To stop illegal land grabbing, she immediately constructed a small house on that land. However, she doesn’t want her sons to come back here. Sometimes, she catches a fish or two from the bheri and sell it to a middleman who then sells it in the market. Apart from it, she gets two kgs of rice only from the Public Distribution System.

Lila Sardar

Lila’s land was similarly affected with saline water. As farming stopped, her husband Kailash Sardar started working as a wage earner. In last No- vember, Uttam-Debasish and their gang has beaten him up. His spine was injured and he cannot work anymore. Now the earning has stopped. Using some previously saved money and taking a few vegetables from the kitchen garden they are living in a precarious condition. Like Bharati, she doesn’t want her sons to come to the village. Her daughters are married off.

We got similar narratives at Polpara of Bermajur. We talked to 10-12 women and they kept uttering the same words. For their expressions, it became clear that they were facing this for quite a long time.

Women of Kutipara

Our women representatives of the fact finding team visited the women of Kutipara. When we entered the village, we saw that there was a Shraddha ceremony being held inside the village and there was a police camp at the entrance.

Here, women talked in a group to us. They said that they were not physically affected by the violence and harassment, but they know that there are places where women were physically abused. They clearly stated that attending party meeting is mandatory, whether they call a meeting during the day or in the night. “They shut the doors and windows and do not allow us to leave.”

“If we somehow manage not to go, they beat our male family members with sticks spade-sticks.

They started crying while narrating the stories of atrocities. They said that our team was being followed by a party representative, he will re- port everything to the party. “We are afraid for our lives!” They pointed towards a man and we left because we could understand that they were becoming anxious of the consequences of our interactions.

Later, we came to know that the person was a TMC leader and his task is to follow the activities of the village.

Women who were fetching water from the deep tube well

After the devastating storm Aila, whenever the government installed a deep tubewell they ensured that it was installed on a high concrete plat- form. We encountered several women at Karnahali village, near Shibu Hazra’s fishery. They were filling their pots with water. One of the married village lady narrated the atrocities on women. She requested for anonymity.

“They call us up in the middle of the night, around 12:00, and then they carry out a variety of atrocities. In the name of “meeting” they do this. The “meeting” continues for hours. If one disagrees, her husband would be facing atrocities.” She was also called up in those meeting and she was compelled to attend it. Upon asking if she faced any sexual atrocities, she said “can I tell you those things?”

Allegations of rape

A woman from Patrapara, Sandeshkhali brought the allegations of rape.11 Three women representatives went to the house to meet her. Her father/ father-in-law (we are not sure) denied to share anything about her. Our representatives said that only women representatives from a variety of different activist groups have come to meet her, and that we intend to meet her and her father/father-in-law. With folded hands he requested that he doesn’t want to say anything more. “Already much has been said to other women organization representatives. There is nothing new left to say.” He broke into tears.

It is important to note that police were everywhere. There were even lady police deployed near her house. Clearly, the ambience was of anxiety and tension. We thought that it might not be wise for the old man to open up, it might invite further troubles for him. We came back.

When BLRO is involved in land related corruption

People from the entire island time and again told us that local BLRO – Block Land Revenue Office has a connection with Bheri owners. This relationship is deeply rooted in the local politics. It is this nexus that re- sults in the transfer of land records overnight. We talked to a person in Sarberia. As we assured his anonymity he narrated the mechanism.

“Once we went with a few villagers to the BLRO office to register the names of the people given patta [ Patta is a document for land right to vested land that is given by the State Government as part of their land redistribution program]

 by the government. We also wanted to submit a written complaint against the land grabbers. The officer there asked us ‘why have you given the names of a few leaders as land grabbers?’ We said because they are all guilty of land grabbing. The officer in charge immediately started shouting and told us that he cannot receive that complaint. We left the office with letters we couldn’t submit. It was around 5:30 pm. When we were returning, a person informed us that BLRO has asked us to go there again. We asked for the reason, that employee said that BLRO would like receive the complaint letters. There were about 5-6 persons of us. Upon our arrival the BLRO officer said that he will not be able to accept so many letters at one time, so he will be accepting complaints of the Sandeshkhali 1 block area only. (Editor’s Note: The BLRO office was for both Sandeshkhali 1 and 2 block!)

I have a total of 3 bigha and 6 kottah land, and they have occupied about 2 bighas and 6 kottahs of thisland. The have forcefully taken away about 2.5 bighas of land, without making any deed. My father was bargadar (a tenant farmer with legal rights to the land) and they said that main owner has sold it to them.

Once we sat in a meeting inside the police station in August 2023. In 2024 January, we went to the police station again. The duty officer told us that since the OC was not there, they cannot do anything. They also told us to lodge a complaint in General Diary format. We told them how many times do we have to lodge the complaint? But we made a GD again. Nothing happened. If we ask them, they instruct us to go back. They also gave me a phone number and told us to call around 6:00 in the evening to report what the land grabbers are doing in our land after grabbing it illegally. I called up that number in the night and reported that they are digging up a pond and that the police should take action immediately. After hearing what I had to say, they disconnected my call and never received my phone again.”

Question:  Against whom did you lodged the complaints?

Answer: Against Sajahan and his gang, in fact, his brothers are also among the accused. BLRO was angry because I lodged a complaint against them.

Question:  What is the Hindu Muslim ratio of your village?

Answer: Our village is full of people like us, i.e., Oraon – a tribal group.

Question:  After submitting the complaint what did the BLRO do?

Answer: BLRO called up around 2:00 am, I was taken aback. My brother picked up the call and asked for the reason for this call in the middle of the night. BLRO told my brother to persuade me to sign the papers. My brother said that I was not there, and in response BLRO said that then you put signature. My brother refused to sign, saying that a complaint had already been lodged by my brother (i.e. me). Now do you understand the role played by BLRO?

Question:  Now what is the role of the Police Station?

Answer:  Police! (He exclaimed) About four days ago, they called me up at 4:00 am, just imagine the timing of the call. They told me that I should go and meet the police, we didn’t go. We asked them, why are you calling us up now? Be it the police or BLRO, everything is in their [TMC’s] control.

Complaint receiving center

On behalf of Basirhat District Police Station a number of complaint receiving centres were set up in Sandeshkhali area. We visited one of such centres located on Sandeshkhali-Khulna road. We found that the centre is run by two lady officers. Sub Inspector, the officer in charge of the centre Ms. Manasi Bhattacharyya was there. We asked if anyone has lodged any complaint. Along with another officer, she said no! It was about 2:00 pm. We asked if they had any complaints on the previous days, they said that they do not know. We asked for the name of other officers, she requested with folded hand not to ask anything. We could clearly understand that they were working under severe pressure. They also mentioned that they are shifting officers at regular intervals, so no one is there for long.


On 24th February, when we were returning after the end of days’ work, Sujit Basu, the fire brigade minister was entering. We saw he was cordoned off by the fire fighters. We heard that they will have a meeting in the afternoon .A tea stall owner said that they are bringing people from outside, no one from Sandeshkhali would participate. A Toto driver mentioned that Harmad (armed gangs) are entering, but if they do any- thing stupid, they won’t be able to go back. When our team was returning we could spot that people were entering in Sandeshkhali using a hired boat. Be it Sandeshkhali island or the jetty, we could spot saffron flags everywhere, several new temples are being constructed. A competition between political parties for area domination was very visible.

* Detail Report will be published shortly.











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আমরা: এক সচেতন প্রয়াস
AAMRA is an amalgamation of multidisciplinary team of researchers and activists erstwhile worked as an assemblage of movement, research and activism. Popular abbreviation of AAMRA is, An Assemblage of Movement Research and Appraisal.
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