Indian police 'raped dozens of women and looted homes during anti-communist operation'

'Human rights of the victims have been grossly violated by the security personnel of the government'

Gabriel Samuels
Monday 09 January 2017 12:37 GMT
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Multiple protests have been staged in Indian cities in the past year after a series of high profile rape cases (file photo)
Multiple protests have been staged in Indian cities in the past year after a series of high profile rape cases (file photo) (AFP/Getty Images)

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An Indian police unit has been accused of involvement in the gang rape of more than a dozen women during an operation to suppress rebel uprisings.

An investigation by the country’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) revealed that at least 16 women reported they were raped or sexual assaulted at the hands of police officers in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh state.

The assaults allegedly took place alongside a series of looting incidents during a local government operation to quash unrest among communist rebels in October 2015.

The report by NHRC investigators claims that a pregnant woman and 14-year-old girl were among those who accused police officers of rape, and the NHRC confirmed it was in the process of interviewing a further 20 alleged victims.

“The National Human Rights Commission has found 16 women who were victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel in Chhattisgarh,” the commission said in a statement.

“It was also reported that belongings of many villagers were destroyed, stolen or scattered by the forces passing through the villages. 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.”

Indian government forces have been engaged with conflict with Maoist rebel groups for 50 years, with much of the fighting focusing on the country’s so-called ‘Red Corridor’ districts in the east. Residents within these areas are known to suffer from extreme poverty and overpopulation, and homes are frequently raided by local police units.

Meanwhile police in the city of Bangalore confirmed they had arrested five people in connection with the alleged sexual assaults of scores of women during New Year’s eve celebrations. Local commissioner Praveen Sood said officers were using CCTV footage to identify the alleged offenders.

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