Indian police accused of mass rape during operation

Human rights commission calls for arrests of security forces who sexually assaulted women in fight against rebels.

    Indian police accused of mass rape during operation
    India is fighting thousands of armed communist rebels in central and eastern India [Reuters]

    India's human rights watchdog said more than a dozen tribal women were raped by police in restive Chhattisgarh state with the victims' lawyer slamming authorities over delays in arresting the accused.

    The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said on Sunday at least 16 women were "victims of rape, sexual and physical assault" after it concluded an investigation into reports that police attacked several villages in Bijapur district in the central Indian state during an operation against communist rebels in October 2015.

    "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," the government commission said in a statement.

    OPINION: Nepal - A costly constitution

    The NHRC said it was in the process of recording the testimonies of 20 more victims who were allegedly sexually assaulted during the incident.

    India is fighting thousands of armed communist rebels in the so-called "Red Corridor", which passes through swaths of resource-rich areas of central and eastern India and is mostly inhabited by underprivileged tribes.

    Several media reports at the time said police officers had raped or sexually assaulted at least 40 women in five villages, and destroyed and looted homes during the anti-Maoist operation. Chhattisgarh is about 1,200km southeast of the capital, New Delhi.

    Reports said 11 women were gang-raped, including a 14-year-old girl and a pregnant woman.

    Police launched an investigation over the allegations, but no arrests have been made yet.

    Kishore Narayan, who is representing 14 victims, told AFP news agency the panel had backed their claims and accused the police of deliberately shielding the culprits.

    "The victims gave the names of the policemen involved in the barbarity but nothing has happened. They carried a sham investigation and are trying to obfuscate the case," Narayan said.

    He said they have filed a petition in the Chhattisgarh High Court demanding an investigation by a special police team from outside the state.

    INTERACTIVE: Nepal - The Maoist dream

    Activists often accuse Indian security forces of committing gross human rights violations including extrajudicial killings, arson, and sexual assault in the conflict-torn region.

    Communist fighters, inspired by Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong, say they are battling the Indian government for land, jobs, and other rights for poor tribal groups, with thousands of lives having been lost in the decades-old insurgency.

    Maoist rebellion brought big changes in Nepal: Bhattarai

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    'It takes a village to kill a child': Uganda's hidden children

    Faced with stigma and abuse, many children with disabilities are hidden indoors, with few options for specialised care.

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    Medieval Arabic cookbooks: Reviving the taste of history

    A growing number of cookbooks have been translated into English, helping bring old foods to new palates.

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    India-China border row explained in seven maps

    Seven maps to help you understand the situation on the ground and what's at stake for nearly three billion people.