After NHRC notice, now Chhattisgarh HC will hear “sexual assault” of tribal women case
By Ejaz Kaiser | Express News Service | Published: 08th January 2017 12:20 PM |
RAIPUR: 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.
The NHRC during its fact-finding visit and inquiry in February last year has prima-facie found 16 women sexually and physically assaulted by the security personnel in strife-torn Bijapur district.
“The human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel of the state for which Chhattisgarh government is vicariously liable”, the rights body observed. Issuing a notice to the state chief secretary, the NHRC asked why it should not recommend an interim monetary relief of ₹ 37 lakh for the 16 victims.
The victims represented by a tribal organisation ‘Sarva Adivasi Samaj’ also approached the high court last year seeking justice. The court had then cited that the victims should come forward.
“The court during its first hearing in December last felt that the issue can be better reflected through the victim-connect. They can give an account with their testimonies. So, we have produced intervention applications of 14 women victims before the court. The case is slated to be heard on January 9”, the counsel of the tribal body Kishore Narayan told Express. There are around 50 tribal women victims from different villages, the lawyer informed.
The hearing will come up before the division bench led by the Chief Justice Deepak Gupta.
“The victims are optimistic.The strong observations and remark by the NHRC couldn’t have come at a better time, and they are not losing hope. The good thing is that the affected tribal women are gaining awareness about the legal rights too”, said the tribal rights activist Soni Sori, who lives in Dantewada, south Bastar.
Ironically, even after a year of lodging an FIR against the state security personnel by the victims, there has been no arrest so far.
Bijapur superintendent of police KL Dhruv told Express that the state CID in inquiring into the grave allegations. “There has been no arrest so far. The security forces have been named in the FIR but as far as I know none of the security personnel has been identified in the complaint”.
The victims has added a prayer before the high court that their case shouldn’t be investigated by the state police as they fear a “biased and partial probe” and sought an inquiry be conducted through the Special Investigation Team (SIT) led by officers from outside the Chhattisgarh state.
Last year the Bastar inspector general of police SRP Kalluri declared that Bastar will turn into a Maoist-free land through “Mission 2016”. However following the reported incidents of sexual assaults, the human rights organisation People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) expressed deep concern alleging that “sexual violence has become a part of the anti-naxal operations in Bastar”.