Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday said Indian authorities should properly investigate all crimes, including allegations of sexual assault and gang rape, during last months communal violence in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.
Authorities should also develop a plan for prompt relief, return or resettlement, and reparations for the riot-displaced and create a secure environment for investigation and prosecution, it said.
Reports of sexual assault have started to surface following the September communal violence in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh that left some 50 people and displaced tens of thousands.
Many, including girls, are still missing. So far, five criminal complaints of gang rape and two cases of sexual harassment have been registered by police.
Indian activists who had visited riot-affected communities report that other Muslim women may have suffered sexual assault, including rape, but have not registered criminal complaints out of the fear of reprisals, stigma, and a lack of faith in state institutions. They are therefore unable to access crucial services including psychosocial counselling, legal aid, emergency medical care, and reproductive health services responsive to the effects of sexual violence, it added.
“The Uttar Pradesh government needs to urgently create an environment for victims to come forward and seek justice,” Human Rights Watch said.