This week the human rights activists who have been fearlessly fighting for the rights of the helpless adivasis in Bastar won a great victory.
In a statement on Saturday, the Human Rights Commission said there was prima facie evidence to prove the crimes and issued a notice to the Chattisgarh state government asking it “to show cause why it should not recommend to give interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh” to the 16 women who were raped and physically assaulted by security forces and has blamed the state for its laxity in allowing this violence “state is vicariously liable.” 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.
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
The human rights activists from an independent collective called Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, travelled to Basaguda in Bijapur and first brought to national attention the sexual assaults in 2015. They uncovered chilling stories of sexual violence against several women in the district. Their report formed the basis of the article that appeared in Indian Express and shook a nation’s conscience.
First FIR filed against security personnel under Nirbhaya
With the help of the activists, four women from Pedagellur in Basaguda block of Bijapur on November 1, 2015, filed a First Information Report against a team of security personnel. This was the first time an FIR had been filed against security personnel since the rape laws were amended under the Nirbhaya Act.
Activists demand prosecution of guilty policemen
“Why is it that it is talking only about compensation and not about disciplinary actions for allowing these crimes to happen?”
The NHRC report also blamed the state government for another crucial discrepancy. “Almost all the victims in these incidents covered under the three FIRs are tribals. However Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been invoked in any of the cases. As a result of this, the due monetary relief under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has not been paid to the victims.”
Fact finding team arrested
A seven-member fact-finding team that included lawyers and journalists from Telangana was arrested in Sukma district of Bastar under section 8 of the Chhattisgarh State Public Security Act. They were on their way to investigate the killing of a 13-year-old deaf boy who the police claimed was a Maoist. On January 2, their bail was rejected by the District Court in Dantewada. Their fate still hangs in balance.