A day after the Uttar Pradesh Police lifted a two-day blockade around the village of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who died after she was brutally assaulted and allegedly raped by four upper-caste men, politicians cutting across party lines trooped into Hathras district to meet the victim’s family even as Congress’ Priyanka Gandhi demanded removal of the district magistrate and an investigation into his role in the entire matter.
The Uttar Pradesh Police used mild force on Rashtriya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party workers in Hathras after they broke the police barricade to reach the victim’s village in large numbers.
The RLD alleged that its vice-president Jayant Chaudhary and party workers were lathicharged by police and roughed up. Condemning the police action, RLD’s UP unit president Masood Ahmed said, “The BJP is trying to suppress the voice of the opposition.”
The police action against Chaudhary saw hundreds of RLD activists, led by its Muzaffarnagar district president Ajit Rathi, staging a dharna and blocking roads in different places in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar district.
However, a Samajwadi Party delegation and Chaudhary were finally allowed to meet the family of the 19-year-old woman. Issuing a statement, SP said the party assured all possible help to the family. “A ‘nyay yuddh‘ (struggle for justice) is going on to deliver justice to the deceased daughter of Hathras by the Samajwadis. On the directives of the national president, the SP delegation met the aggrieved family, expressed its solidarity, and assured all possible help. SP supports all the demands of the aggrieved family,” the party said.
Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was initially stopped by the UP Police from entering the village, demanded Y-category security for the family besides a probe in the case under a retired Supreme Court judge.
“I demand ‘Y-security’ for the family or I’ll take them to my house, they aren’t safe here. We want an inquiry to be done under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge,” ANI quoted him as saying.
The Yogi Adityanath-led government, under fire from the Opposition over the incident, has recommended a CBI investigation into the entire chain of events in the Hathras assault and alleged gangrape case, including her hurried cremation without the family’s presence. All the four accused — Sandeep (20), Ravi (35), Luv Kush (23) and Ramu (26) — have been arrested.
Hathras Sadar SDM Prakash Meena, however, said five of the SP and RLD workers each were allowed inside the village. “A delegation of not more than five people are allowed inside the village. Delegations of SP and RLD came in; we got five names listed and allowed them to go there. Eventually their workers started misbehaving with women personnel. They broke the barricading and pelted stones. One of our COs has been injured. To disperse the crowd, we had to use minor force. Situation is under control,” ANI quoted him as saying.
Meanwhile, scores of people gathered outside the house of a former BJP MLA in Hathras where they defended the accused in the gangrape case, and demanded registration of an FIR against victim’s family members. Heavy police force was deployed in the vicinity of ex-MLA Rajvir Singh Pehalvan’s residence, which is located around 8-9 kilometres from the victim’s village.
Pehalvan’s son Manveer Singh, who was one of the organisers of the meeting, denied that the gathering comprised members from only the upper castes and said they were from “different sections of society”. “We welcome the CBI inquiry ordered by the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. We have faith in the investigation,” Singh told PTI.
“The entire scenario has been created to blame the government. The accused persons are in favour of any type of inquiry. But the victims are changing their stand every now and then. They do not want a narco test or a CBI probe. Now they want other kinds of inquiries,” PTI quoted Manveer Singh as saying.
He said an FIR should be registered by police against the complainants in the case. “Our demand is that a case should be filed against those people who had filed the case in the first instance,” he said.
A day after meeting the 19-year-old woman’s family, Priyanka Gandhi upped the ante in her attack on the Yogi Adityanath government. Gandhi said according to the family, the district magistrate meted out the worst treatment to them.
In a tweet in Hindi, the Congress leader said, “According to the aggrieved family, the worst treatment meted out to them was by the district magistrate. Who is trying to save him? He should be immediately suspended, and his role in the entire matter should be probed. When the family is demanding a judicial probe, then why is noise over CBI probe and SIT probe is going on.” “If the UP government has even slightly woken up from its slumber, it should listen to the point of view of the family,” Gandhi said in another tweet.