PTIRaipur, Chhattisgarh, IndiaJan 08, 2017, 05.55 AM (IST)
India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Chhattisgarh government over the alleged rape and sexual abuse of at least 16 tribal women by the police.
The rights commission in a statement issued on Saturday said it was awaiting recorded statements of about "20 other victims."
"The NHRC has found 16 women, prima facie, victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by the state police personnel in Chhattisgarh," the statement read.
The proceedings were initiated after a 2015 news report that stated women of five villages had accused police personnel of sexually harassing and assaulting more than 40 of them and gang-raping at least two in Bijapur district.
The victims reiterated they were raped before the NHRC team which conducted a spot investigation.
Through First Information Reports (FIR) filed by the victims of rape and sexual assault, the commission found that there are in "total 34 victims mentioned in police complaints."
The NHRC team "could record the statements of only 14 victims out of the 34 victims mentioned in the FIRs. Thus, statements of 20 victims are yet to be recorded by it."
The NHRC said the Chattisgarh government was "vicariously liable" for the assault.
A notice was served to the government "to show cause why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to them, which 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."
"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 (PoA) Act has not been paid to the victims," it added.