A fact-finding team of the National Commission for Women arrived in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday to inquire into the manhandling of women protesters during the ongoing protest against shifting the state's capital from Amaravati.
Responding to several tweets that showed women being manhandled by police personnel in Amaravati, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma had earlier said that the Commission was taking cognisance of the incidents.
Members of a joint action committee (JAC) for protection of Amaravati as the state capital, met the team and submitted a representation along with photographs and videos as proof of the police assault.
The JAC also sought strict action against the police personnel involved.
Met with the members of the @NCWIndia team, along with representatives of the #Amaravati JAC. Briefed them on the incidents of violation of #rights & #dignity of women by the #Police in the #Capital Region. Submitted a representation seeking action against the erring officers. pic.twitter.com/OwkBP5mTVeâ€” Jay Galla (@JayGalla) January 12, 2020
Backed by opposition parties, scores of farmers have been staging protests in Amaravati over the last one month, against the YSRCP government's proposal to decentralise the capital -- setting up the legislature in Amaravati, the executive branch in Visakhapatnam and the judiciary in Kurnool.
The police have been cracking down on protests citing orders under Section 144 Cr PC (banning assembly of more than four people) and Section 30 of Indian Police Act in the area for preventing the foot march.
Earlier this week, reports from Vijayawada, Guntur and the Amaravati region suggested that the police allegedly manhandled women and forcibly dumped them into vans, to be driven away to police stations.
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) alleged that police not only manhandled women protestors but also abused them in filthy language.
Speaking to reporters after meeting the NCW team, Guntur MP from the TDP, Galla Jayadev said, "For close to a month, as protests are going on in Amaravati, the government has been 'abusing' Section 144. It has been assaulting peaceful demonstrators including women and farmers, and treating them inhumanely."
"The visuals have been circulating on social media for everyone to see. We are hoping for some relief. We also hope that the state government revokes Section 144 and restores our right to protest peacefully," he added.
TDP official spokesperson P Anuradha, who was also part of the JAC delegation, lashed out at Vasireddy Padma, the Chairperson of the State Womenâ€™s Commission.
Padma had triggered a row earlier this week, stating that the women were being used as pawns, by their "men who are hiding behind them."
"I'm very sorry to say that the state Women's Commission has been silent on the atrocities going on in Amaravati. The chairperson's statement has been detrimental to women's rights in the state," Anuradha said.
"We have explained everything that has happened here and we have submitted evidence. We are hoping that action is taken as quickly as possible," she added.
The NCW team is now expected to ask for an explanation from the police, before submitting its final report to the Chairperson in New Delhi.
Talked toâ€” Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha) January 12, 2020
Dr. Ravi IPS ADG Law & Order - Andhrapradesh in detail to know the situation. He assured me all kind of help to women. Will wait for the report from my team and take the next step. #AndhraPradesh
Responding to the reports earlier this week, Guntur Rural Superintendent of Police Ch Vijaya Rao had said in a statement that they had not manhandled any women.
"The police did not attack anybody or resort to lathi-charge. Also, only women constables were used against women protesters," the SP claimed.
The senior official also said that they would take legal action against those circulating fake videos and pictures, alleging police atrocities on women.