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India: Sexual Assault by the Central Reserve Police Force in Odisha
Letter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
William Gomes contacts the National Human Rights Commission over sex abuse by police in the Bargarh district in Odisha of India.
(SALEM) - Members of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in India are accused of sexually assaulting local women and girls and now the reports include police coercing sex crime victims.
In one case, a woman was accosted and barely escaped from her would-be attackers. Police would only accept a report about the incident after nearly 150 local gathered in protest.
The following day, the CRPF Commandant from Nuapada, visited the victim at her house on the pretext of conducting a departmental enquiry. No female police officers accompanied the group that approached the young woman. With her home surrounded by police, they requested that she withdraw the police complaint as she would be unable to pursue a long-drawn legal battle herself.
As our Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes states below, this type of intimidation of the woman by the CRPF commandant is condemnable. It seems clear that the efforts of CRPF have been geared toward protecting the accused. A complaint was been lodged by the woman at the State Womens’ Commission on 1 August.
Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
Fax + 91 11 2338 4863
Re: India: sexual assault by the central reserve police force in Odisha
Dear Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan,
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
I have been informed by The People’s Union for Democratic (PUDR) of a number of incidents of sexual assault by CRPF personnel on young women in the Paikmal block of Bargarh district in Odisha. On the 24th July, a few CRPF personnel stationed on the same block assaulted a 20-year old woman of the Vindhyabasini colony of Paikmal.
The Jawans of CRPF accosted her as she was collecting water from the tube-well, and asked her to go with them to the forest nearby for which they offered her money. When she refused, she was dragged. On resisting, she was kicked, marks of which are still on her body. She somehow managed to outwit them, and return to the village where she narrated the incident to villagers who were present. In the evening the villagers decided in a meeting to lodge a complaint with the local police. Initially the thana-in–charge and the SDPO of Padampur refused to lodge a FIR against CRPF on the pretext that it required the permission of SP Barhah.
It was only later... when 100-150 villagers gathered and applied pressure, that the local police was forced to register the complaint again the CRPF personnel. The local police was even reluctant to give a copy of the FIR to the complainant.
The next day, the CRPF Commandant from Nuapada, visited the victim at her house on the pretext of conducting a departmental enquiry into the incident. He was accompanied by 50-60 Jawans of CRPF and the thana-in-charge. The Jawans had cordoned the victim’s house. There were no women police officers when he spoke to the victim. He explicitly asked her to withdraw the police complaint as she would be unable to pursue a long-drawn legal battle herself. Such intimidation of the woman by the CRPF commandant is condemnable. Instead of giving justice to the woman, the efforts are geared at protecting the accused. A complaint has been lodged by the woman at the State Womens’ Commission on 1 August.
According to a local journalist, the incidence of misbehaving with local women by CRPF jawans is quite rampant. These jawans lure women by throwing currency notes on them in a lewd manner and also lecherously stare at them when these women bathe in the nearby check dam. As a consequence, girls and women of this village are scared of going to the check dam for bathing. Importantly, this is not the first case; many such allegations have come in the recent months from other villages of Paikmal and Khaprakhol Blocks. Such incidents draw attention to the intimidation and vulnerability that people, especially women face in areas where security forces have been posted to ostensibly tackle Maoism.
Paikmal in Bargarh district of Odisha, is in the foothills of the Gandhamardan mountain range of western Odisha. Paikmal has been part of the anti-BALCO movement of the late 1980s. Again in the last few years NALCO, setting its eyes on the Gandhamardan hills again for bauxite mining, has agitated the people of this region. To suppress the agitation and resistance to mining by the people, the government has unleashed the paramilitary forces on the people. Murder of two activists in fake encounters in December 2010, is an instance of that. In the apparent bid to fight Maoists, the CRPF has helped the state suppress the people’s resistance to the mining of Gandhamardan hills for bauxite. The result is routine harassment and interruption of all activities of the local people and the total lack of safety for women in their daily tasks.
I am condemning the sexual assault by the CRPF personnel on the young woman, along with PUDR and demands the following:
· The local police should immediately initiate legal action against the erring jawans and render all possible help to the woman in the legal fight. The local police should protect the innocent and not the culprits; the local police should not allow itself to be partisan, whatever the difficulty.
· Justice should be secured immediately to the woman.
· The State Women’s Commission should be serious about the assurances it has given to the woman and follow up on the case in the interest of the woman.
· The government should withdraw all para-military and security forces forthwith to ensure that such acts are not repeated.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
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Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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