Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Madhya Pradesh sexual assault, rape: No effort to book culprits two months after incident, says fact-finding team

Hut-roof "broken" by cops
By Our Representative
A Madhya Pradesh Mahila Morcha fact-finding team, which visited Holibayda and Bhutiya villages of Dhar district in February third week following complaints of sexual violence against nine tribal women, including two minors, has regretted that even two months after the incident there has not been any arrest.
“There has been no effort to identify the accused through an identification parade. Charges of sexual assault, loot and loss of property are not yet registered”, the report says.
The eight-person team consisted of independent activists from several towns of Madhya Pradesh, Ram Kuwar and Kirma from Prithampur, Preeti and Shivani Bajpai from Indore, Shivani Taneja and Madhu Dhurve from Bhopal, and Anu Arvind from Dewas, and one activist from Bangalore, Gopika Bashi.
Also investigating allegations of loot and pillage by district police functionaries, the team in its report says, it was “appalled and horrified to hear complaints of women, and believes that the state has miserably failed to protect the rights of its citizens.”
A charpoi "broken" by police personnel
The report says, “A middle aged woman showed how she was pushed when she tried to save her newly married daughter’s belongings and precious money the family had saved after selling the soyabean crop. To silence her protests, one of the policemen pinned her down and raped her.”
Then, “another woman, who lives alone with her children, pointed to the cooking stove where she had been dragged and raped when she protested against the theft of her household belongings.”
In a third case, “another woman, visibly six months pregnant, was similarly raped”, adding, it also found “young mothers and unmarried girls have been attacked on their breasts and touched inappropriately.”
Pointing out that over 220 police functionaries of 13 police stations and district headquarters were involved in the raid which took place in the early hours of January 25, the team says, “The crime carried out by these police functionaries is being hidden under the cloud of counter-allegations.”
Regretting that retaliatory warrants were issued against the victims, the report says, “The team examined the lists of the warrants issued. Of the 143 warrants, a cursory glance showed repetition of names; it is obvious that this number is not equivalent to number of individuals.”
Cops "didn't spare" musical instruments 
It adds, “Police has been saying that they were shot at, but no such arms were retrieved, nor gunshot injuries reported. It is evident that these are excuses the police have come up with for its defense… The police cannot be excused for the plunder and violence they caused.”
Pointing out that the team saw “many households in the affected villages of Holibayda and Bhutiya have suffered a massive loss of property and materials”, the team says, “The roofs have been brought down, windows broken, grains stolen.”
Additionally, the team found “deliberate destruction of the soyabean stored as seed for the next crop by throwing pesticide in them or slashing of traditional musical instruments, khats and chairs, utensils crushed and broken, in some of the houses suggests a rampage and revenge for their existence.”
The report says, despite the visits of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes in the area, which led to announcement for setting up of a Special Investigation Team of the police, “it took one month for the testimonies of the rape survivors to be taken under Section 164 in the Court.”
One of the villages "attacked" by cops
Calling all this “dilly-dallying and delaying tactics”, the team demands that “charges of sexual assault and loot be added in the chargesheet with immediate suspension of members of the police that were involved in these operations in the villages”, even as punishing “the perpetrators of violence.”

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