As the security forces in Chhattisgarh are battling accusations of rape and assault, CRPF has deployed its first woman officer in Batsar. According to a report in Hindustan Times, 27-year-old Usha Kiran – an assistant commandant with CRPF’s 80 Battallion – is a potent PR tool for the security forces.
Kiran’s presence is reportedly also good for the tribal women who are terrified during raids in the insurgency-hit region. “She helps the security forces during search and raid in Maoist-affected villages and secondly, her presence helps to counter Maoist propaganda of rape and molestation by security forces,” Sanjay Yadav, the CRPF DIG for Bastar region said.
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In November 2015, women from five villages of Bijapur district — Pegdapalli, Chinnagelur, Peddagellur, Gundam and Burgicheru — had alleged that Chhattisgarh Police personnel sexually harassed and assaulted more than 40 of them, and gangraped at least two.
In a press release issued January 7, the National Human Rights Commission found that 16 women were “prima facie victims of rape, sexual and physical assault by state police personnel in Chhattisgarh” in Bijapur district in October 2015, and said it is of the view that “prima facie, human rights of the victims have been grossly violated, for which the state government is vicariously liable.”
Kiran, former national-level athlete, was given three choices but she “preferred to come to Naxal-hit Bastar because tribals are innocents and development is not happening because of Maoist violence,” she told Hindustan Times, adding, “I talk to the women. They are scared of male cops and officers. But with me, they are more relaxed.”