January 9th, 2017
In a press release on 7 January 2017, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) “found 16 women, prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by the State police personnel in Chhattisgarh”. The human rights watchdog stated that it is still waiting for the recorded statement of about 20 other victims.
The NHRC was investigating reports of human rights abuses by security forces in Chhattisgarh during an October 2015 operation against Maoists. It also found that almost all the victims in these incidents, covered under the three FIRs, are tribals.
Kishore Narayan, who is representing the victims, accused the police of deliberately shielding the culprits. In a statement made to AFP news agency, Narayan said, “The victims gave the names of the policemen involved in the barbarity but nothing has happened. They carried a sham investigation and are trying to obfuscate the case.”
The NHRC issued a notice to the Chhattisgarh Government and recommended interim monetary relief of Rs. 37 lakh to them. The press release also accused the State for not taking serious action against the perpetrators of the crime. In its press release the Commission stated that “it is of the view that, prima-facie, human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel of the Government of Chhattisgarh for which the State Government is vicariously liable.”
In late 2015, some media outlets reported on the sexual harassment of village women by Chhattisgarh police. As reported by The Indian Express, women from five villages of Bijapur district had alleged that Chhattisgarh Police personnel sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them, and gang raped at least two. Villagers in Pedagellur alone alleged that four women had been raped, including a 14-year-old who was allegedly blindfolded and gang raped.
The press release of the NHRC is nothing short of shocking. Women being raped by the people charged with the maintenance of law and order is one thing; the inaction of the authorities in securing justice for these women is another outrage altogether. State authorities should take swift and strict action against the perpetrators and dispense justice as soon as possible.
1. The Untold Story Of Rape, Beatings And Looting