CRPF troopers accused of molesting Dantewada schoolgirls, cops launch probe
The Chhattisgarh Police have started an investigation against unknown personnel following a complaint that CRPF troopers had molested a group of schoolgirls at a government hostel in the Maoist stronghold of Dantewada during a cultural programme.
The probe was launched after the warden complained to the police. Palnar, where the alleged incident took place, is 25 km away from the district headquarters of Dantewada.
“We have received a complaint from the warden of the hostel against the unknown men in uniform and started investigation,” said Abhishek Pallav, additional superintendent of police (ASP) in Dantewada, told Hindustan Times.
“An FIR under Section 354 IPC has been registered promptly at Kuakonda police station. More sections can be added based on Section 164 of the CrPC and statements of victims.”
Pallav also said the issue is a serious one and proper investigation in the case will be carried out. “The statement of the girls will be taken and the accused will be identified,” he added.
The matter also came into light after an activist, Himanshu Kumar, wrote a Facebook post on Sunday about the alleged molestation.
“There was programme of a private news channel on Rakshbhandhan going on in the hostel in which the CRPF personnel were invited so that the girls could tie rakhi on July 31. When the programme concluded, few girls went to the toilet and there they were molested by the CRPF personnel,” Himanshu Kumar told HT.
“The personnel molested them in name of frisking. The warden later complained about the act to senior administrative officers but nothing was done,” he said.
Himanshu claimed that the CRPF camp in Palnar is just 100 metres from the hostel and that other atrocities of the CRPF officers were also reported in recent past.
Tribal leader Soni Sori also visited the school a couple of days back but the warden did not allow her to enter the school.
The alleged molestation can potentially snowball in a crisis situation in the Bastar region where security forces have been accused of human rights abuse and rape.
The Chhattisgarh government has been making efforts to wean away the younger generation from Maoist influence by opening schools in remote areas and getting the children to stay in hostels. The alleged molestation has the potential to reverse the government’s gains to win the heart and mind of the tribals.
The director general of CRPF sought a detailed report in the Dantewada molestation case. The CRPF also constituted a four-member committee, led by RK Lal, DIG (CRPF), Dantewada, to investigate the charges.
“We have also demanded the district administration order a magisterial inquiry in the case,” said AK Singh, DIG CRPF, posted at sector office in Raipur. He added strict action would be taken if anyone of any rank was found guilty in the case.
Singh said, “A few days before the alleged incident, members of a private news channel came to our office and urged us to give permission to the battllaion in Palnaar to participate in a Rakhi programme they were organising. We granted them permission. The accusations have been made that during the programme, two to three jawans frisked girls returning from the school’s toilet.”
Security forces taking on Maoists in Chhattisgarh often face accusations of rights violations, including sexual violence. Allegations of brutal rights violations in Bijapur district two years ago earned security forces the wrath of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
In January, the NHRC stated in a report there was prima facie evidence that security forces raped and sexually assaulted 16 tribal women during an operation in October 2015 in Bijapur district. The five-day operation was reportedly carried out by state police and the CRPF.