In a notice it has sent to the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said, during its on-the-spot investigation, it has found 16 women prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel.
Pointing out that it still awaits the recorded statement of about 20 other victims, NHRC has sought answer from the Chhattisgarh chief secretary as to why it should not recommend “interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh” to these victims.
The interim relief includes Rs 3 lakh each to eight rape victims, Rs 2 lakh each to six sexual assault victims, and and Rs 50,000 each to two physical assault victims.
Saying that it has found, prama facie, “human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel”, NHRC has said the Chhattisgarh government is “vicariously liable”, for barbarous acts.
NHRC notice was sent after it examined the records of 34 victims, who were mentioned in three separate FIRs – 22/2015, 2/2016 and 3/2016. The material includes copies of statement of victims recorded by the NHRC team as well as those recorded in respect of 15 victims sent by the inspector general of police (IGP), Police Headquarters, Raipur, Chhattisgarh capital, on November 12, 2016.
Finding the allegations of physical as well as rape and sexual assault committed by security personnel as “grave”, NHRC said, its team “conducted spot investigation and/or before the magistrate.”
In a statement, NHRC says, “Almost all the victims in these incidents covered under the three FIRs are tribals”, regretting, yet, the “Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act or SC/ST (PoA) Act has not been invoked in any of the cases”, one reason why “the due monetary relief under the Act has not been paid to the victims.”
Asking the Chhattisgarh government to direct DIG (investigation) and additional director general of police (CID) to depute a team of officials to record the statements of the victims, whose statements were not recorded by the NHRC team, the notice says, these should be submitted the same to NHRC “within one month”, even as insisting, the monetary relief, if any, should be paid to the victims “under the SC/ST (PoA) Act”.
Pointing out that these “directions” are of interim nature, and a final view will be taken “in respect of other victims and also with regard to other issues involved in this matter in due course of time”, NHRC says, it “initiated suo motu proceedings on the basis of a news report published in the Indian Express dated November 2, 2015."
Report said that women from five villages Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru had alleged that the state police personnel had sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them and gang raped at least two in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.
It also reported that belongings of many villagers were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages.
During the course of its inquiry, NHRC says, it received “another complaint dated January 21, 2016 bringing to its notice more incidents of sexual violence by the security personnel against women between 11 and 14 January, 2016 at Bellam Lendra (Nendra) village (Bijapur district), village Kunna (Sukma district) and village Chotegadam (Dantewada district).”
Following “careful examination” of the records, it directed a spot investigation, whose report was sent to the Chhattisgarh chief secretary and the and director-general of police (DGP), for their response to the findings and recommendations.