Easterntimes, New Delhi, 31 October: On the 20th Anniversary of the UNSC Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, the National Campaign Against Torture (NCAT) in its report, “INDIA: 20 YEARS OF UNSC RESOLUTION 1325” stated that India has even failed to ensure equality before the law and equal protection of the law to the women and girls living in the areas declared ‘disturbed’ under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFPSA).
As per the official figures, a total of 9,448 people were killed in conflict areas during 2009 to 2019 including 3,747 persons in the LWE affected areas; 3,070 persons in the North East; and 2,631 persons in Jammu and Kashmir.
The report of the NCAT cited at least 114 reported cases of rape, molestation and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls perpetrated by armed forces of the Central government as well as the State governments in conflict situations in India.
The maximum cases were reported from Assam (21) followed by Manipur (18), Chhattisgarh (17), Jammu & Kashmir (16); Tripura (14); Jharkhand (7) and Meghalaya (6); Arunachal Pradesh (6); Odisha (5); Andhra Pradesh (3) and Maharashtra (1).
A total of 224 women and girls were victimized and the maximum number of victims were reported from Chhattisgarh (92 victims); Assam (26 victims); Manipur (21 victims); Jammu & Kashmir (20 victims); Tripura (19 victims); Andhra Pradesh (16 victims); Jharkhand (nine victims); Meghalaya (seven victims); Arunachal Pradesh (seven victims); Odisha (five victims); and Maharashtra (two victims).
The violence against women included 42 cases of gang rape, six cases of murder, three cases of rape of pregnant women, four cases of rape of differently-abled, three cases of being shot dead for resisting molestation and rape, attempt to rape, stripping, molestation etc. often perpetrated during counter-insurgency operations.
Minor girls were particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and 74 out of the 224 total victims constituting 33% were minor girls between 7 -17 years.
Tribal women and girls were disproportionate victims as 156 out of the 224 total victims constituting 69.6% were tribals.
The perpetrators of sexual violence against women by the state actors included persons serving with the Indian Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Border Security Force (BSF), Assam Rifles (AR), Indian Reserve Battalion (IRBN), Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JKLI), the State police, Greyhounds Special Police of Andhra Pradesh, Special Police Officers (SPO), Jharkhand Armed Police (JAP), State Police Commandos, Manipur Rifles, Tripura State Rifles (TSR), and the Special Operation Group (SOG).
Members of the armed opposition groups (AOGs) were also responsible for rape and other sexual violence. There were reports of forced marriage and rape in Jammu & Kashmir by the AOGs, mass rape of tribal women by the members of United National Liberation Front (UNLF) in Manipur, killing for resisting rape attempt by the AOGs in Meghalaya; and rape and sexual exploitation by the Maoists.
The perpetrators of sexual violence against women by the non-state actors included Borok National Convention of Tripura (BNCT), Laskhar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and the Maoists.
The Government of India provided impunity to the security forces while it failed to bring the members of the AOGs to justice.
No permission for prosecution of any member of the armed forces serving in ‘disturbed areas’ under the AFSPA has been given by the Government of India. Then Defence Minister Late Manohar Parrikar in a written reply dated 24 February 2015 before the Rajya Sabha stated that permission was denied in 30 out of the total 38 requests for sanction of prosecution received under the AFSPA during 16 June 1991 to till date while requests in 8 cases were pending.
The Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence Dr. Subhash Bhamre in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on 1 January 2018 further stated that permission for prosecution was denied in 47 out of total 50 requests, including four cases of molestation and rape, received from the J&K Government during 2001–2016 for prosecution sanction against armed forces personnel under the AFSPA while requests in three cases were pending as on 1 January 2018.
“While India removed the requirement of prosecution under Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code for sexual offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 as recommended by the Justice Verma Committee, it failed to amend the AFSPA to remove the requirement of prior sanction in cases of sexual violence.
This implies that for sexual violence committed by the armed forces and the police in areas not covered by the AFSP