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PUCL statement on complaints of sexual violence during search operations in Chhattisgarh #Vaw

SAVE_20160116_072504Chhattisgarh PUCL severely condemns the incident of sexual violence against adivasi women of Village Kunna, Pedapara, Block Chhindgarh, District Sukma during searching operations on 12th January. It expresses serious concern at the increasing incidents of sexual violence against women becoming a part of the anti-Naxal operations in Bastar.

On 15th January, social activist and convener of the Aam Aadmi Party in Bastar – Soni Sori, along with the affected women of Village Kunna, Pedapara, Block Chhindgarh, District Sukma met the Bastar Commissioner and presented him a collective complaint of sexual violence committed by security forces during searching operations on 12th January. The Commissioner has given a written Notice to the IG, SP and Collector on the complaint and directed them to conduct an immediate enquiry into the incident.

The following incidents are narrated in the complaint (a scanned copy with photographs is annexed hereto) –

  1. Hadme w/o Deva Kartam was stripped by the police, her “waist string” was broken, her upper cloth was removed and police sat on her and abused her with filthy language.
  2. Kartami w/o Bhuiyan was badly beaten, her right hand was injured, right thigh and lower back has got swelling.
  3. Hadpi w/o Lakhma had her blouse torn, and was made to do sit ups. She was asked why she does not have children, and told that if she slept with them, she would have babies. When she started crying, she was beaten with a thorny stick.
  4. Kartami Kosi d/o Budhva was stripped by the police. They made fun of her breasts and then beat her badly.
  5. Podiyami Jogi w/o Ganga was dragged out of her house. She has injuries on her face and body. Her husband and children were picked up and taken to Gadiras Camp.  When she said her child is small, she was told to milk her breast. A policeman came and milked her breast. Her necklace, ear rings and Rs. 1500 were snatched away.
  6. Apart from this, many other women were also beaten and insulted. Rice, hens, cash and ornaments were also looted. A grenade was also thrown so there was a fire.
  7. First 29 people had been taken into custody by the security forces, three were released, they are also badly injured.
  8. Police has claimed that there was an encounter in the village during which one police man was injured. Actually when that policeman entered a house, his foot got entangled in a sack and his weapon went off accidentally injuring him. All the villagers are aware of the incident.

In the complaint a demand has been made for a judicial enquiry and medical help has also been sought.

Earlier, on 1st November, affected women of 5 villages including Pedagelur and Chinnagelur of Bijapur district had registered an FIR concerning rape and sexual violence during search operations. Till date no action has been taken on this FIR. In fact, senior police officers, without even investigating into the FIR, are commenting on the reliability of the complaint. In these circumstances there is little likelihood of an unbiased police enquiry. Hence Chhattisgarh PUCL demands a high level Judicial Enquiry into both the above incidents.

Chhattisgarh PUCL also expressed deep concern that in the past 2-3 months, more and more incidents are coming to light where sexual violence has become a part of the anti-Naxal operations. The United Nations and other international human rights organisations have expressed concern that wherever wars are going on world over, violence against women has been used as a weapon to humiliate and subjugate that society. Such an attitude towards the adivasi communities of Bastar is unjust, reprehensible and unconstitutional, and will only alienate them further from the government.

Dr. Lakhan Singh Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj

President General Secretary.

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