In a shocking revelation, the National Commission for Human Rights reported that at least 16 tribal women were allegedly raped and assaulted by policemen in Bastar, Chhattisgarh in November 2015. The outrageous news comes after the NHRC launched an investigation based on news reports in the five villages of Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru of the Bijapur district in Bastar.
Observing that the government is “vicariously liable” for the alleged crimes, the commission asked the government to show cause why the NHRC should not recommend interim monetary relief to the tune of Rs. 37 lakh for the women. The commission also observed that it is of the view that prima facie, human rights of the victims have been “grossly violated”.
This includes, Rs.3 lakh each to eight victims of rape, Rs. 2 lakh each to six victims of sexual assault and Rs. 50,000/- each to two victims of physical assault.
After examining the material available on record, including three FIRs, the NHRC found that found that there are in “total 34 victims mentioned in police complaints.” However, the commission noted that statements of only 15 victims have been recorded by a magistrate, and directed the Chhattisgarh Additional Director General of Police (CID) to get the statements of the other 19 victims recorded before a magistrate.
The NHRC team itself examined several people in the matter, including the security personnel and some of the victims. The team was able to record statements of only 14 of the 34 women mentioned in the FIRs.
After the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) serving a notice to the Chhattisgarh government asking why it shouldn’t recommend interim relief to the victims of rape and sexual violence in restive Bastar, the “sexual assault” case will come up for hearing before the state high court at Bilaspur on Monday.
It also found that the grave allegations of physical as well as rape/sexual assault committed by security personnel of Government of Chhattisgarh, made in the FIRs, were reiterated before the NHRC Team, which conducted spot investigation and/or before the Magistrate.
Almost all the victims in these incidents, covered under the three FIRs, are tribals.
However, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been invoked in any of the cases. As a result of this, the due monetary relief under the SC/ST (PoA) Act has not been paid to the victims.