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Hathras gang rape | Victim cremated without consent, says family

Policemen cremate the body of a 19-year-old Dalit gang rape victim in the early hours of September 30, 2020 in U.P.’s Hathras district.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The family of the victim of gang rape, brutal assault and murder in Boolagarhi village of Hathras has said that the authorities did not take their permission before cremating their daughter in the early hours of Wednesday. District officials denied the charge and said the last rites had been performed after the consent of the father had been obtained, and that some close members of the girl’s family participated in the funeral.

The rape victim passed away in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday after a prolonged battle at Aligarh’s J.N. Medical College and Hospital. The Dalit girl was allegedly assaulted by four men of upper caste on September 14 when she went to collect fodder with her mother, leading to a fracture in her spinal cord.

 

The accused were arrested and charged with attempt to murder, which was changed to murder after her death. After the girl’s statement was taken under Section 164 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure), the charges of gang rape were added.

The victim’s father said the family members were not allowed to see the face of the girl one last time.

“When we reached the village [from Delhi], we found the village was turned into a police fortress. Police personnel stopped family members, including women, to come out of their houses, and manhandled them. All they [the family members] wanted was to wait till 8 a.m.,” he said. He said he did not know what material was used for his daughter’s funeral.

A strong police cordon was laid around the village on Wednesday as well. Media teams were stopped on the National Highway 509 and asked to walk on foot for 2.5 km to reach the village.

 

Joint Magistrate Prakash Kumar Meena, who made the arrangements for funeral, said the father himself had said that the body be directly taken to the cremation ground as it had been more than 12 hours since the post mortem had been done in Delhi. Mr. Meena said, “When he [the victim’s father] reached the village, he was influenced by a political party to change his decision and became untraceable. As we anticipated a law and order problem, we went ahead with the cremation with the girl’s real uncle and her father’s real uncle. With the kind of attention the case is getting, and people were coming from different districts, had we waited till morning, a local problem would have become a national issue.”

The uncle of the girl’s father told The Hindu that he went to the cremation spot after his nephew told him to go there and see what was happening. “I did not ignite the pyre. When I reached there, the fire was already lit,” he said.

The girl’s mother said the women of the house pleaded with the police and said they would arrange ice slabs (for preserving the body). “We even tried to make them understand [by saying] whether they would have done the same with their daughter, but they didn’t listen,” she said.

On the charge that proper Hindu rituals were not followed, Mr. Meena said the administration had procured eight quintals of wood for the process and none among those present had objected to the rituals followed.

 

Earlier, Hathras Bharatiya Janata Party MP Rajvir Diler from the Hathras (reserved) constituency faced the ire of the family and members of the Bhim Army when he visited the girl’s family. faced the ire of the family and members of the Bhim Army when he visited the girl’s family. Mr. Diler, who also hails from the Valmiki community, was made to sit on the ground. “I was at the Chandpa police station till late night but was not allowed to come to the village by the district administration. I have complained to the Chief Minister and he has promised action against the erring officials,” he said.

Bhupendra Singh, Panchayati Raj Minister and in-charge of Hathras district, said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) had been formed by the State government. “It will look into all the allegations of the family and submit its reports within a week,” he said.

Later in the day, Mr. Singh arranged a meeting of the girl’s father with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath via video conferencing. “He has increased the compensation to ₹25 lakh and [offered] a job to a family member. He has promised strict action against the culprits and safety for us,” said the girl’s father.

 

During the day, incidents of stone pelting were reported from Hathras, and Samajwadi Party and Congress workers protested outside the village. Vikram Vir, Senior Superintendent of Police, Hathras, said two columns of PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) had been stationed in Hathras. “We have been providing security to the family and will continue to do so,” he said, adding there had been no intention to keep the family out of the funeral. “Why would we do something that could cause a bigger law and order problem?” he asked.

Mr. Vir stated that the JNMCH had not confirmed sexual assault in the medical examination. “We are waiting for the forensic report from the Agra lab and the post mortem report,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 4:14:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/up-police-forcibly-cremating-hathras-rape-victim-at-night-allege-kin/article32728110.ece

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