The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the National Commission for Women (NCW) have served notices to the Rajasthan government after media reports that minor girls in certain districts of the state were being auctioned to settle financial disputes.
"The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has 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," the human rights body said in a press release on Wednesday, 27 October.
What Does the Media Report Say?
A report published in the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar on 25 October said that girls aged between 8 to 18 are auctioned in a 'Jatiya Panchayat' in a few districts of Rajasthan, as a way of settling financial transactions, especially loans.
The news report further narrates multiple such cases. In one incident in Bhilwada, a man who had taken loans for the treatment of his wife and mother, had to sell his daughter for Rs 6 lakh to pay the loans. The 12-year-old was taken to Agra, after which she was enslaved as a sex worker and was sold two more times.
What Has NHRC Said?
The NHRC, taking suo motu cognizance of the media report, issued a notice to the chief secretary of Rajasthan calling for a detailed report in the matter, which mentions the measures and action taken to prevent such instances.
"The Report must also contain how the State Government is ensuring the functions of the Gram Panchayat, as per the constitutional provisions or Panchayati Raj Law to eradicate the caste-based system impinging the human rights and the right to dignity of girls and women in the State," the human rights body said in a statement.
The NHRC has also issued a notice to Rajasthan's director general of police, asking them to submit a detailed report mentioning the initiation of criminal prosecution against the perpetrators of such crimes. The DGP has also been asked to mention the steps taken against the public servants who neglected their duty in prevention of these.
The chief secretary and the DGP have been directed to respond within four weeks. Further, the commission's special rapporteur, Umesh Kumar Sharma, will visit and inspect the affected areas, and submit his report in three months.
Condemning the crimes as "extremely appalling and traumatising," the NCW has also written to the chief secretary and DGP of Rajasthan, to take urgent action in the matter.
A two-member fact finding committee has been constituted by the national women's body to look into the issue.