The National Human Rights Commission on Saturday said that 16 women were subjected to rape, sexual and physical assault by security forces in Chhattisgarh in October 2015. The panel said there was prima facie evidence to prove the crimes, but it is still awaiting statements from around 20 other victims.

The NHRC has issued a notice to the state government asking why it should not recommend interim monetary relief of Rs 37 lakh to the women. The case will come up for hearing before a division bench of the Chhattisgarh High Court on Monday, according to The New Indian Express.

According to the commission, the security forces, including state police personnel, had “grossly violated” the human rights of the women in question, and the government was “vicariously liable” for their actions. The panel’s observations are based on the womne’s statements and the FIRs filed in connection with the cases.

The NHRC further noted that though nearly all the women belonged to tribal communities, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was not invoked in any of the cases. Therefore, the women were not provided relief by the state government as per the Act.

The commission has asked its deputy inspector general (investigation) to set up a team to record the statements of the rest of the women and submit a report within a month. The panel has also directed the state police to invoke the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act wherever applicable. It has also asked the state government to ensure that financial aid is given to all the women as per law.

The human rights panel had begun to look into the cases after The Indian Express reported in November 2015 that more than 40 women from five villages in Chhattisgarh had alleged rape and sexual assault by security forces. Several residents had also accused security personnel of destroying their belongings in October 2015.

The district collector of Bijapur had said that the administration was looking into the allegations. “If they are found to be true, strict action will be taken,” Yashwant Kumar had said. Assistant Director General (Anti-Naxal Ops) RK Vij had said they would “properly look into” the complaint.