The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has found 16 women as “prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault” by the Chhattisgarh police personnel in Bijapur district in October 2015.
“The Commission has observed 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,” a statement by the human rights panel said.
In a show cause notice issued to the Chhattisgarh government, the panel has asked why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to the victims.
“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,” it said.
The Commission, in a statement on Saturday also said that it awaits the recorded statement of about "20 other victims".
The panel said it initiated suo motu proceedings on the basis of a news report dated November 2, 2015.
According to the report by the Indian Express, women from five villages Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru had alleged that State Police personnel had sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them and gang raped at least two in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh.
They had also alleged that forces destroyed stole and scattered properties of many villagers.
“The Commission, after careful consideration of the material on record, found that there are in total 34 victims mentioned in FIR Nos. 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 u/s 164 CrPC in case FIR No. 22/15, FIR No. 2/16 and FIR No. 3/16 in respect of 15 victims, sent by the IGP, Police Headquarters, Raipur vide letter dated 12th November, 2016,” the NHRC said.
“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 u/s 164 Cr.PC or both,” it said.
The Commission could record the statements of only 14 victims out of the 34 victims mentioned in the FIRs. Thus, statements of 20 victims are yet to be recorded by the NHRC Team.
The Commission said it has directed the DIG (Investigation) to depute a team of officials from the Investigation Division and Law Division to record the statements of 15 victims whose statements were not recorded either by the NHRC Team or by the Magistrate u/s 164 CrPC and submit the same to the Commission within one month.
"The Additional Director General of Police (CID), government of Chhattisgarh has been directed to get the statements of 19 more victims u/s 164 CrPC recorded before the Magistrate and forward the same to the Commission within one month," it added.
The Additional Director General of Police (CID) has also been directed to ensure that SC/ST (PoA) Act is invoked in all the cases the victims belonged to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, the Commission said.
The Chief Secretary has been directed to ensure that monetary relief, if any, under the SC/ST (PoA) Act is paid to the victims at the earliest, the NHRC added.
The Commission has also made it clear that the above 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".
“During the course of this enquiry, Commission received another complaint dated January 21, 2016 bringing to its notice more incidents of sexual violence by the security personnel against women that took place between 11-14 January, 2016 at Bellam Lendra (Nendra) village, District Bijapur and at village Kunna, Sukma District and village Chotegadam, Dantewada District. The Commission sought reports from the State Authorities regarding these incidents also,” the panel said.
“Considering the gravity of the allegations and brutality of sexual violence upon hapless women, the matter was considered by the Full Bench of the Commission on the 22nd February,2016. The Commission, on a careful examination of the material on record, directed a spot investigation by a team of the Investigation Division and Law Division of the Commissio,” it said.