The National Commission for Women (NCW) on Friday constituted a two-member fact finding team to look into the matter of girls being auctioned off to settle disputes over loan repayments in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara.
In a statement, the NCW said: “It has been further reported that in many settlements of the village, girls are sold for prostitution on stamp paper. In some cases, their mothers are subjected to rape on the diktats of caste panchayats for the settlement of disputes.
“The Commission has taken cognizance of the reported crime which is extremely appalling and traumatizing. The Commission has constituted a two-member fact finding ream to look into the matter. Chairperson Rekha Sharma has written to Chief Secretary, government of Rajasthan to take urgent action in the matter and apprise the Commission of the action taken.
“The Commission has also written to the Director General of Police, Rajasthan to immediately invoke relevant provisions in the FIR and to arrest all the accused at the earliest. A copy of the letter has also been sent to Superintendent of Police, Bhilwara.”
On Thursday, the National Human Rights Commission India (NHRC) had also sent a notice to the state government in connection with the same matter.
In a statement, the NHRC said that it had taken “suo motu cognizance of a media report that in a half dozen districts of Rajasthan, the girls are sold on stamp paper and if not, their mothers are subjected to rape on the diktats of cast panchayats for the settlement of disputes”.
“Reportedly, whenever there is a dispute between the two parties particularly involving financial transactions and loans etc, the girls aged between 8-18 are auctioned to recover money. These girls are being sent to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Delhi and even foreign countries and subjected to physical abuse, torture and sexual assault in slavery. The media reports have documented the ordeal of many victims of such horrendous crimes.a
“The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, amount to human rights violations of the victims of the such abominable practice. Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary of Rajasthan calling for a detailed report in the matter, along with an action taken report, measures already taken and if not, proposed to be taken to prevent such gory incidents,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the NHRC issued another notice to the Director General of Police, Rajasthan, to submit a detailed report mentioning the initiation of criminal prosecution against the perpetrators of such crime and their abettors/sympathizers.
“It must also contain the status of cases, including the registration of FIRs, charge-sheet, arrest, if any, in such incidents and the mechanism initiated to apprehend the people involved in such systematic crimes of flesh trade in the State. The report must also mention steps being taken or proposed to be taken against the public servant(s), who purported to have neglected perpetually prevention of such incidents. The response from both the Chief Secretary and DGP is excepted within four weeks.”
The NHRC has also asked its Special Rapporteur Umesh Kumar Sharma to visit and inspect the affected areas and submit a comprehensive report at the earliest, preferably, not later than three months.
Citing a media report dated October 26, it said that the “caste panchayats in Rajasthan are committing this crime like Syria and Iraq where the girls are enslaved”.
“Reportedly, in Bhilwada, whenever there is any dispute between the two parties, they instead of going to the police, approach the Caste Panchayats for its settlement. It becomes the starting point of making the girls slave, if they are not sold, their mothers are ordered to be raped.”