“Fabricated”: BJP vs Trinamool As Video Claims Sandeshkhali Women Were Paid To Protest

Asserting that Matuas are bona fide citizens of the country, senior TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee on Sunday accused top BJP leaders of insulting the people belonging to the community by labelling the ‘refugee’ tag on them and promising them to provide fresh citizenship.

Addressing an election meeting here under the Bongaon Lok Sabha constituency in support of TMC candidate Biswajit Das, he also came down heavily on BJP for allegedly “disgracing the dignity of women of Sandeshkhali” in neighbouring Basirhat constituency by “offering them money to level false rape charges against TMC leaders”.

On the citizenship issue, he said, “BJP leader Amit Shah came here and called Matuas ‘refugees’. But I want to make it clear. They are Indian Citizens just like you and me who are entitled to avail of government facilities.” “Matua brothers and sisters are also citizens of this country. Please don’t be misled by the BJP’s propaganda about granting fresh citizenship through CAA. If it is so, then why union minister of state and sitting MP from Bongaon, Shantanu Thakur, is not applying for fresh citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act?” he asked.

Mr Banerjee accused the BJP of being insensitive to the sentiments of the Matua community people, who comprise a large chunk of voters in the constituency in North 24 Parganas district.

“This was evident when TMC’s Rajya Sabha MP Mamatabala Thakur was not allowed by the Rajya Sabha chairman to take oath in the name of Matua patriarch Harichand Thakur during the swearing-in event,” he said.

Coming to the Sandeshkhali issue, Mr Banerjee reiterated that “BJP leaders, by offering Rs 2,000 to some women to level concocted charges, virtually sold their dignity to their Delhi bosses.” “Women are now coming out and revealing the truth that no rape had taken place in Sandeshkhali and BJP leaders made them sign on blank papers to file fake rape cases. These anti-Bengal elements maligned the state in front of the entire nation,” the TMC national general secretary alleged.

The riverine Sandeshkhali area – situated on the borders of the Sundarbans, about 100 kilometres from Kolkata – had been on the boil in February with protests over allegations of sexual abuse and land grab against now arrested TMC leader Shajahan Sheikh and his supporters.

The TMC shared purported videos in which a woman was heard saying, “We were deceived in signing on blank papers. We discovered later that rape complaints had been lodged in our names. This is a blatant lie”.

In a purported video that surfaced from Sandeshkhali on Saturday night, a local BJP leader was heard saying that over 70 women had received Rs 2,000 each for taking part in protests against local TMC satrap Sheikh and his aides who were accused of sexual assault and land grab.

In the video, lasting over 45 minutes, a man resembling BJP’s Sandeshkhali mandal president Gangadhar Kayal told this to the questioner.

PTI did not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.

It was Mr Kayal who had earlier said in another purported clip, the first in a series in the past week, that the rape allegations were “staged”.

The BJP dismissed the TMC’s allegations, claiming that the videos were “fabricated”, and threatened to move courts over the issue.

“The TMC is using fake videos to change the narrative ahead of the polls. The TMC has the least regard for the dignity of women of Sandeshkhali. All the videos released are fake and doctored,” BJP state spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said.

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