In Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, a young Dalit woman alleged she was gang raped by ‘upper-caste’ men, who also attempted to kill her. She died. The accused are getting all the support they want. Not even the film industry’s award winning script writers could come up with a plot so twisted. The victim, of the alleged gang rape and brutal beating, has died of the injuries. The men accused of committing the heinous crime are under arrest, and all attempts are being made in the state to make them appear innocent. When all else fails, victim shaming is resorted too, and even before that, some old fashioned threats are made by the dominant Thakur community, who have come out in large numbers to support the rape and murder accused ‘upper-caste’ men.
The most recent threats were made a couple of days ago on camera, after the ‘upper-caste’ men of the village held community meetings they called the ‘Rashtriya Savarn Parishad’ or national ‘upper-caste’ council. They have accused the woman and her family of ‘falsely blaming’ the four men who were arrested after her dying statement.
According to a report by NDTV, the two men, wearing caste marks on their foreheads, are seen sitting confidently and loudly threatening. They are heard saying things like ‘your big brothers are here to get you justice’, in the wake of a visit by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad to meet the Dalit victim’s family on Sunday. The ‘upper-caste’ men display their arrogance and shout brazen threats even as uniformed policemen continue to look the other way. Not one of them intervenes. They have issued fresh threats now:
— Dr. Jio – ? CoronaCurse (@razikararvi) October 7, 2020
The videos, that surfaced online and went viral, showed clearly the ‘confidence’ that these upper caste men are now enjoying, with no fear or respect of the law. It is not known if any legal action was eventually taken against the two men, however, the UP police did file a case against Chandrashekhar Azad and 400 others after the visit, said the report.
The UP police has accusing them of violating a ban on large gatherings in the area, an of Covid-19 protocols, however, no such action is known to have been taken against the hundreds of ‘upper-caste’ men who held multiple meeting in solidarity with the gang rape accused. Azad had also flagged that these “meetings are held openly to support the Hathras suspects. The victim’s family is at risk,” and had demanded that special security be given to the grieving Dalit family. The family too had alleged threats and intimidation reported NDTV.
Meanwhile the upper caste men of the village, accused the woman and her family of falsely blaming the four men who were arrested after her statement. The man in the video shouted, “Do you not have faith in the CBI?” He (Chandrashekhar) does not trust the CBI, and has come here to do politics. “Just let us meet him once then we will make sure he does (trust the CBI),” adding “Thakurs are born to withstand blows… Come out, your big brothers are here to meet you.” The aggressive tone was to taunt and provoke the Bhim Army leader. The police are seen trying to reason with him. NDTV reported that according to these ‘upper caste’ men, the rape accused has the same name as the victim’s brother. They alleged that it was the victim’s brother who killed her and the other man had been framed. “Who says she was raped,” they added, perhaps citing the statement made by Uttar Pradesh police.
However all the arguments and counter arguments do not take away from the fact that the victim was a Dalit woman, and the alleged attackers are from the powerful and influencial Thakur community.
On his part, the Uttar Chief Minister Adityanath has said his government would “work for all but appease none”, and Tuesday warned those he accused of “trying to create anarchy” that they will be dealt with, in the way those “trying to provoke violence during the anti-CAA protests or those shielding Tablighi Jamaat members to spread coronavirus” were.
According to a report in the Indian Express, CM Adityanath said “Opposition has no issues to raise other than indulging in negative talks. They are constantly trying to indulge in rhetoric that creates differences in society. While on one side, BJP workers, along with the government at the Centre and the state, are doing good work, there are some who do not like development and try to create hindrances.
The chief minister has already alleged there was a conspiracy at work to malign the image of his government and develop caste and communal animosity in the society. He said: “Apne in chehron ko dekha hoga….Jinhone CAA ke khilaf andolan ke naam par hinsa karne ka prayas kiya tha… Jinhone Corona kaal khand ke dauran tabligi jamaat ke logon ko ashraya de karke Corona phailane ki chesta kit hi..Jinhone Pradesh ke andar vibhinna sttar par arajakta paida karne ka prayas kiya tha.. Sarkar ne na kewal unko benakab kiya balke aise tatwon se nipatne ka karya kiya” the IE quoted him. The words translate as “You have seen the faces of those who in the name of anti-CAA protest attempted to spread violence, and of those who during the Corona pandemic gave Tablighi Jamaat shelter and tried to spread Corona. Those who tried to create anarchy at different levels in the state… the government has not only unmasked them, but also dealt with them.” The CM said his government will not appease any caste or religion but will work to protect everyone and ensure development for all.
However the delay in the state government action against ‘upper-caste’ men displaying caste dominance in various ways especially in and around Hathras areas seems to send another message.
As reported by The Print, the Thakurs and Brahmins of the region are on the same page here, claiming the innocence of the accused. The Thakurs are the largest community in Boolgarhi, while Brahmins are the second biggest group, at just about half the Thakur population, stated The Print, adding that the village’s Valmiki Dalit community is “minuscule in comparison, with just three families, all related to each other.”
The families of the four accused insist they are paying the price for being upper castes. They claim the case against them is only to extract compensation under the SC/ST Act. The Brahmins of Boolgarhi are standing firmly with the Thakurs on this issue.
The upper caste agitation is going to get stronger. Hathras isn’t over yet. Bihar is watching. Mind it!!!
— Anubhav Sinha (@anubhavsinha) October 4, 2020