‘But for protest by family, it would have been over even before sunrise in violation of custom’

Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta, one of the few persons present at the cremation of the 23-year-old gang-rape victim here, alleged a “conspiracy” in the “hasty and secret’ manner in which the last rites were performed early in the morning on Sunday. He claimed that the family members were not allowed to perform the last rites according to their customs and tradition.

Mr. Gupta, who along with the former Delhi Minister Jagdish Mukhi attended the cremation at Dwarka, said the body reached the family’s home around 4.30 a.m. and by 5.30 a.m. it was taken to the cremation ground. “It reached there around 5.45 a.m. and by 6 a.m. the police, rushing the family, got it placed on the pyre.”

Pointing out that the girl’s father wanted to take bath and change into a new dhoti and kurta before performing the last rites, the BJP leader said the family also objected to the haste. Therefore, the body remained on the pyre for nearly 90 minutes before it was cremated around 7.30 a.m.

“The hush-hush manner of cremation was a reminder of the days of Emergency… In a conspiracy the body was brought from Singapore to Delhi at 3.30 a.m. The government was in such a hurry to cremate the body that it wanted to do so even before daybreak.”

But, the BJP leader said, “the family members refused to give mukha-agni [lighting the pyre]” and therefore the “body remained on the pyre” for some time. It was only when the sun rose did the family members agree to cremate the body. He said they were so offended at the turn of events that they did not want to talk to any government representative.

Mr. Gupta , who had earlier been in touch with the family members at Safdarjung Hospital here, said: “Had the intention of the government been good it should have allowed all those concerned to participate in the last rites and pay tribute to this brave daughter of India. There were about a hundred people and a thousand police personnel at the cremation ground. And all roads leading to the cremation ground were cordoned off to prevent people from coming in.”