ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Unambiguous Indictment

The assault on Adivasi women in Chhattisgarh must be stopped, not just compensated.

 

The face of Chhattisgarh is the smiling visage of its chief minister, Raman Singh, which appears with unabated frequency in advertisements, including in the EPW, extolling the progress the state is making under his 13-year reign. The reality, as became evident with the latest report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), is vastly different. It confirms what is already known but which Singh and his police force stubbornly refuse to acknowledge, that the tribal population of this state lives in constant fear of violence at the hands of the state police even as it continues to struggle with the unrelenting burden of poverty. The tragedy of Chhattisgarh is not just the impunity with which the police and security forces continue to operate in the name of fighting the Maoists, but that nothing seems to dent the pursuit of these actions that have led to rapes, murders, harassment and wrongful imprisonment of ordinary people.

Taking suo motu cognisance of a 2 November 2015 news report in the Indian Express about 40 women from five villages who had alleged that they had been assaulted, harassed and that two women had been gang-raped, reportedly by the state police, the NHRC initiated an investigation. The newspaper story was based on inquiries carried out by a women’s human rights group, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Oppression a month earlier. The NHRC responded by sending a team from its Investigation Division and its Law Division to seek out these women and record their testimonies. A full bench of the NHRC heard the findings and concluded, as stated in its press release of 7 January 2017 that prima facie, 16 women were victims of “rape, sexual and physical assault by the State police personnel in Chhattisgarh.” Even as the NHRC waits for the testimonies of the remaining 20 victims to be recorded, it has asked the Chhattisgarh government to show cause why interim monetary relief of₹37 lakh should not be paid to the victims. This amount includes₹3 lakh each to eight victims of rape,₹2 lakh each to six victims of sexual assault and₹50,000 each to two victims of physical assault.

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Updated On : 13th Jan, 2017

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