A public relations exercise to boost the CRPF’s relations with tribals in the Maoist bastion of Dantewada backfired badly after a few troopers allegedly molested some schoolgirls.
The Chhattisgarh Police has launched a probe after the warden of a girls’ hostel complained that CRPF troopers molested schoolgirls in Palnaar in Dantewada district.

Updated: Aug 07, 2017

By Ritesh Mishra , Hindustan Times, Raipur
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. Palnaar, 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 Palanaar is just 100 meters 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.