Following the riot, Sandeshkhali is under strict security, with some sections falling under Section 144
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Amitha Reji George, Pune

On Thursday, a group of locals allegedly set fire to a fishery’s guard room, claiming it was constructed on land taken by TMC officials in the area. In nine localities across five Sandeshkhali gram panchayats, the administration issued CrPC Section 144 after the event.

Sandeshkhali, a small island in West Bengal’s North 24-Parganas district in the Sundarban delta, has been at the centre of BJP-TMC politics since January 5, when Enforcement Directorate officers searched local strongman and TMC leader Shahjahan Sheikh’s home and they were attacked. The ED team had travelled there as part of their inquiry into potential flaws in the state’s public distribution system.

Around ten in the morning on Thursday, a large number of Sandeshkhali locals including women raided and set a fishery’s guard room on fire in the Jhupkhali neighbourhood, according to police, who spoke with Indian Express.

At the time, villagers also organised a protest. They claimed that the Sheikh and his allies had taken their agricultural areas by force, who then established fisheries there. Also, the locals asserted that tribal communities owned the majority of the fields that the TMC leaders had taken.

Sukanta Majumder, the state president of the BJP, organised a rally on Thursday outside the Sandeshkhali police station to call for the arrest of Shahjahan Sheikh, who was reported missing.

In the evening, Majumdar sat on a dharna with other BJP leaders. After about an hour, the BJP leaders were picked up by police, who then transported them by boat to Dhamakhali before freeing them.

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) searched multiple places in West Bengal connected to Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Shahjahan Sheikh on Friday, the following day, and filed a new complaint against him in an earlier cheating case involving land encroachment.

Sheikh, a TMC leader from Sandeshkhali, has been avoiding arrest since January 5 after ED agents who had gone to his home were attacked and driven out.

Searches are reportedly taking place at six locations, including the homes of businesses and people close to Sheikh in Kolkata, Howrah, and North 24 Parganas, according to ED sources reported in Indian Express.