South 24 Parganas, February 25: Six members of an independent fact-finding committee, on their way to Sandeshkhali, were arrested at Bhojerhat in West Bengal's South 24 Parganas district on Sunday afternoon. Following the arrest, the committee members were brought to PHQ Lal Bazaar Kolkata. Saikat Ghosh, Deputy Commissioner, Bhangar Division, Kolkata Police, said while speaking to the media, "We were requesting them to not cross from here, but they were trying to break the police barricade unlawfully. So, we had to arrest them under Preventive Sections."

"If there is information of a 'breach of peace', police can arrest them under preventive sections," he added. The Fact-Finding Committee members were stopped by police at Bhojerhat, South 24 Parganas, while they were proceeding to the trouble-torn Sandeshkhali area in West Bengal's North 24 Parganas to investigate alleged incidents of atrocities on women there. Charu Wali Khanna, a member of the Fact-Finding Committee, expressed dissatisfaction, "We were visiting Sandeshkhali, but they have stopped us... Police have purposely stopped us and are creating problems for the common people. Police are not letting us meet the victims of Sandeshkhali..." Sandeshkhali Violence: Calcutta High Court Grants Bail to Journalist, Says Press Must Be Allowed To Function Freely.

Fact-Finding Committee Arrested

Another member of the Fact-Finding Committee, OP Vyas, said, "We are sitting here obediently to oppose as they (police) have stopped us illegally, which is against our rights. We'll complain about it to the Chief Minister, Governor, Union Home Minister, and even to the Prime Minister." Hitting out further at the state government, he said that the constitutional machinery has collapsed in the state. "Unfortunately, Police are executing illegal orders and taking the law into their own hands. We want to meet victims of Sandeshkhali," he added. Sandeshkhali Violence: Women Commission Chairperson Rekha Sharma to Visit Violence-hit Region on February 19, Hold Meeting With Chief Secretary and DGP of West Bengal.

Earlier, Trinamool Congress (TMC) leaders and State Ministers Sujit Bose and Partha Bhowmik interacted with the locals of Sandeshkhali. After their interaction with the villagers, West Bengal Irrigation Minister Partha Bhowmick said that not a single woman has raised the issue of assault.

While responding to Bhowmick's statement, West Bengal Opposition leader and state BJP President Sukanta Majumdar said, "The TMC has been in denial mode since the beginning... But later, the police of the TMC government recorded the statement of two women under section 164 in front of the magistrate. Why was the action under 164 was carried out if there was no rape?" Further lashing out at the state government, he said, "Either Partha Bhowmik is lying or Mamata Banerjee and her police are lying... The case should be given to national investigation agencies otherwise the police will suppress the matter..."

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