Monday, November 2, 2015

Bijapur: ‘Policemen raped women, indulged in loot’

Women from five villages have alleged that Chhattisgarh Police personnel sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them, and gangraped at least two in the Maoist-hit district of Bijapur.

A fact-finding team of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), an organisation for women’s rights, which visited the villages deep in the forests, also said that many residents alleged that their belongings were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages.

Four women from the villages — including a 14-year-old, who was allegedly blindfolded and gangraped — were brought to the Bijapur district headquarters by the fact-finding team. The victims presented their versions before the District Collector, Superintendent of Police and other officials. Later, a medical examination of the four victims was also conducted.

The WSS members said that while the exact dates of the incidents were unclear, villagers indicated that most of the violence took place between October 19 and October 24 in the villages of Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagelur, Gundam and Burgicheru. Rinchin, a member of the probe team, said, “From the accounts we have heard, and what we saw in the villages, the violence was on a mass scale. Around 40 women have said that they were forced to strip, sexually harassed and assaulted. Even breastfeeding mothers were assaulted, and those with children too. This happened across villages.”

The complaint to the Collector said while a 14-year-old girl, who was grazing her cattle, was allegedly blindfolded and gangraped, another victim was “repeatedly dunked in a stream and gangraped”. The complaint alleged wide-scale loot and claimed that the women were chased out of their homes. It alleged that the personnel later stripped and taunted the women. Yashwant Kumar, District Collector, Bijapur said, “We are looking into the allegations. If they are found to be true, strict action will be taken.” R K Vij, ADG (Anti-Naxal Ops) said, “A complaint has been received and will be properly looked into.”