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ED officers attacked during raid in Bengal; oppn demands President's Rule

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Ed official after getting assaulted allegedly by the supporters of TMC leader Sheikh Sajahan during a raid at the latter s residence, in North 24 Parganas

Ed official after getting assaulted allegedly by the supporters of TMC leader Sheikh Sajahan during a raid at the latter's residence, in North 24 Parganas

Kolkata: Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers were attacked by the loyalists of a TMC leader during a raid in West Bengal, triggering a political showdown with opposition baying for the imposition of President's Rule and Governor C V Ananda Bose signalling his intent to explore constitutional options and take appropriate action.

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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has characterised the incident at Sandeshkhali in North 24 Parganas district as a direct assault on the federal structure, leading to an urgent call from the Congress for the imposition of President's Rule.

The ruling TMC, however, rejected the charges and accused the central agency officials of inciting locals.

The incident occurred when ED officers executed a raid on the residence of TMC leader Sheikh Sajahan, where they faced attacks from his supporters, resulting in substantial damage to both officers and their vehicles.

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Sajahan is considered to be a close aide of state minister Jyotipriyo Mallick who was arrested in connection with the multi-crore ration distribution scam.

This operation was a crucial aspect of the agency's ongoing probe into the multi-crore ration distribution scam.

A large number of TMC loyalists assaulted ED officials and central forces personnel during the raid, forcing the officers to abandon their damaged vehicles and seek refuge in auto-rickshaws and two-wheelers.

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At least two officers suffered serious injuries, necessitating hospitalisation.

"This kind of attack is unprecedented. We have sent a report on Shiekh Sajahan to our Delhi office," the ED officer told PTI.

The episode drew sharp criticism from the governor also, who slammed the state government for its inability to contain the turmoil in Sandeshkhali.

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"The ghastly incident in Sandeshkhali is alarming and deplorable. It's the duty of a civilised government to stop barbarism and vandalism in a democracy. As a Governor, I explore all my Constitutional options for appropriate action in the appropriate manner," Bose said in a voice message released from the Raj Bhavan.

He also asserted that West Bengal is not a "banana republic".

"Government may better open its eyes and see the reality and act effectively or face the consequences. The ostrich-like attitude of the police pretending not to see the lawlessness around should go," Bose said in an audio statement.

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The incident triggered a political storm in West Bengal, with opposition parties criticising the deteriorating law and order situation.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nisith Pramanik emphasized the failure of respective state governments to provide adequate security to central agency officers, stating, "The attack on the officers of the central agency is an attack on the federal structure of the state." He said that the Centre is taking serious note of the incident and its commitment to investigating why similar events persistently occur in West Bengal.

BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, urging an immediate National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe and demanding imposition of President's Rule in the state.

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"As the law and order situation in WB has crumbled thanks to @AITCofficial, post the heinous attack on the ED officials at Sandeshkhali, I have written to the Hon'ble Home Minister @AmitShahJi to initiate NIA investigation into the matter to ensure the safety of the people of Bengal," he posted on X.

Majumdar's communication also requested the deployment of central paramilitary forces to safeguard the integrity of investigative procedures.

State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury echoed these sentiments.

"Under the TMC rule, the law and order cease to exist in West Bengal. We demand that President's Rule should be immediately imposed in West Bengal," he said.

In response, senior TMC minister Shashi Panja charged the central agency officials with inciting locals leading to the situation.

"Union minister Nisith Pramanik spoke about the attack on the federal structure. The withholding of the state's dues in a real sense is an attack on the federal structure," she said.

TMC state spokesperson Kunal Ghosh criticised both the Congress and the BJP, contending that the law and order situation in West Bengal is far superior to that in other states.

"The governor instead of looking into the entire incident impartially is jumping to conclusions. He should stop acting like a BJP leader," he said.

Media persons from news channels, who went to Sandeskhali to cover the ED raids, were also assaulted and their vehicles were also ransacked.

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