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NAPM condemn police’s and administration’s handling of the Hathras incident

Nine activists visit Hathras, Uttar Pradesh to document the aggrieved family’s account of the series of events related to the Hathras crime.

Sabrangindia 22 Oct 2020

NAPM

Nine members to the National Alliance of People’s Movement’s (NAPM) representatives visited the Hathras victim’s family at Bulgarhi village on October 9, 2020 to listen to compile a detailed fact-finding report of the case. The activists attempted to highlight the inhumane factors of the incident. Accordingly, they expressed solidarity with the victim’s family, who was dubbed ‘Dasya’ in the report, in their battle against casteist politics and injustice.

While detailing events of the past two months, activists like Medha Patkar and advocate Ehtesham Hashmi highlighted said the Hathras crime – that occurred 14 years after the Khairlanji massacre of Scheduled Caste people in Bhandara district of Maharashtra – indicated the cumulative effect of caste and gender on marginalised communities.

Role of caste in Hathras crime

The report described the case as being “entangled in a controversy but also in the casteist politics, denying the facts narrated by the family and openly accusing them of lying and honour killing.”

Bulgarhi village, where the incident took place, is home to 15 Dalit families out of more than 600 families that have experienced a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over several decades. The minority group only recently began to stand up to upper caste families like the Thakurs who use services of Dalit families as agricultural labourers.

Similarly, Dasya’s family has a strained relationship with their neighbours, the Thakur family. In the 1990s, the family was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s government. However, the family only received three and half bighas while the rest was allegedly encroached upon by a Brahmin family. They lived quietly and earned a small supplementary income from cattle rearing and selling milk – until 20 years ago, the Thakurs allegedly attacked Dasya’s grandfather.

“They came into our field to graze their buffalos and my grandfather requested them to take the animals elsewhere as our crops would get damaged. Angered that a Dalit could tell them this, they attacked him with a knife-like object. When my grandfather tried to protect his neck, the knife cut away his fingers,” said Dasya’s brother.

According to the Police Chief Vir, Ravi was involved in the attack on Dasya’s grandfather. However, his father had been jailed in connection with the attack. Even so, owing to the peace in the last two decades, the heinous crime on September 14 was a severe shock to the family.

Regaining consciousness at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, in Aligarh University, Dasya had accused Sandeep, Ravi, Ram and Lavkush of sexually assaulting her. She also talked about how the four men harassed her for six months and recollected an incident where she was pulled by Sandeep, who had a history of high alcohol consumption, but had escaped. Yet, following her death, the family was accused of honour killing Dasya for her alleged relationship with the accused Sandeep.

Incensed upon hearing the incident, Dalit rights activist Shyoraj Jivan said that anyone who looks at Dalit girls with a wrong intention would have their “eyes gouged out,” following which he was arrested. While none of Dasya’s family members approved of Jivan’s statement, they were disheartened to learn that their only supporter from the Valmiki community was kept away.

Similarly, Ambedkarite Dr. Jyoti Bansal stayed with the family to support their fight for justice.

“When she spoke to Babuji (father), he felt highly consoled. We could find him interacting with her and coming out of depression to an extent. We, therefore, requested her to stay back and she did. She also stayed for the second night on our insistence and changed the atmosphere in the hours, in spite of a large police force surrounding us for 24x7 and outsiders continuing to visit and question. When these are the facts, we feel sad that she is blamed as a Naxal,” said the sister-in-law with her voice breaking, as per the report.

It may be mentioned that higher officials in state administration refrained from offering their support to the family. Even a Member of Parliament from the same constituency, who also belongs to the Dalit community gave a half-hearted response in the Hathras case.

Administrative and police mismanagement

Regarding the police and state administration, the members heavily criticised the Uttar Pradesh police allowing the atrocious violation of the Dalit woman’s and the family’s Constitutional as well as human rights.  

“There is no doubt that the police of Uttar Pradesh behaved in a highly suspicious as well as vicious manner, beyond anyone’s expectation and they have, thereby created all doubts about their intentions,” said the report.

In the same vein, they condemned the arrests of 3 active leaders of the Union of Working Journalists from Kerala and the state police’s manhandling of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi on their way to the victim’s family as an act of criminalising dissent and strangulating opposition in ‘democratic’ India.

Although the NAPM group did not face such hostility from police when they visited Dasya’s home, they mentioned that 10-12 of saffron-turban-clad Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha activists were allowed to meet the ‘victim’ Thakur family in a single group while the NAPM members were only allowed to enter the village in batches.

Members also denounced the forceful cremation of Dasya’s body without allowing the family to conduct final rites, and rejected the reasoning of the state government that the body was disposed to curb future violence. They recalled how the family had requested the officials to allow the body to reach the cremation grounds. However, police paid no heed to their wishes.

“Such an awfully inhuman and criminal act on the part of the state with no repentance, nor any response to our serious questions or legal challenge, has proved that the state itself wanted to suppress the issue with casteist, manuvadi and inhuman anti-woman elements exposed through this and other incidences in Unnao, Balarampur, or Azamgarh cases, before and after,” they said.

However, the disrespectful cremation was only the worst of the many injustices done by the police while handling the investigation. The NAPM members said that the police had failed in their role right from the very first time Dasya was taken to the Balga hospital in Hathras. The police had not briefed the doctors of an alleged sexual assault case or the need for a medical examination which would have been crucial to further investigation as per section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

“This passage, rather wastage, of time could be deliberate since late examination couldn’t ever prove rape. The intention obviously could be to miss or lose evidence forever,” said the report.

They also expressed dismay with the medical staff who did not question the victim’s family after looking at the injuries done to her neck and spinal cord. In fact, throughout their time in the hospital, the family felt the doctor’s and medical staff were under external pressure.

This fact is made all the more frustrating after members mention a Medico Legal Case report that states there were signs of vaginal penetration by penis. This report was not immediately made available to the family. It may be noted that a report from the forensic department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) later ruled out this possibility.

While talking about Dasya’s medical treatment, the organisation also dismissed allegations against the family of interfering with her medical treatment by taking her to Safdarjung hospital instead of AIIMS.

“We were told, when asked, that the AIIMS and Safdarjung are the same. We couldn’t argue as we are not educated nor knowledgeable about Delhi and the medical services,” said the family.

Other than the police and hospital personnel, the family also recounted how the father was treated by the District Magistrate who called him for questioning. Instead of queries he received an unclear message the very next day of the crime that he and his family should convey satisfaction to all about the police enquiry and the medical treatment.

“This itself conveys the state was preparing to suppress the truth and close the case forever. Things changed after civil society and a group of courageous media started raising the issue and bringing out the truth. No doubt the judiciary also had to hear, if not do justice with due urgency, when the common citizens, not just activists, also started reacting to the brutalities as well as the State’s misleading deeds and statements,” said the report.

What about the family?

While talking, activists learnt that Dasya’s family had not bothered to check their bank accounts for the compensation amount of Rs. 25 lakhs promised by the state government following public outrage. It is unclear whether they even accepted the Rs. 8-10 lakhs given under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act because “the money is of no use” to them without justice for their daughter.

To this, the Allahabad High Court order said that if the family doesn't accept it, then the District Magistrate should keep the money in a separate account for future use.

Meanwhile, Dasya’s family waits for justice. Her mother found her unconscious body in the field while her brother rushed to the spot on a bike, reported the crime at the Chandpa police station and then took his sister to the Balga Hospital in Hathras. Devoid of any hope of the state government, the family now waits for the Supreme Court to deliver justice.

Fact Finding report can be read here:

Related:

Hathras case: Two doctors who questioned the FSL Reports, scolded by senior doctors and later sacked by AMU
Hathras case: SC reserves order on transfer of case outside UP
Caste attacks on Dalits continue: Panchayat to support rape and murder accused!
UP Police breached the law in Hathras

NAPM condemn police’s and administration’s handling of the Hathras incident

Nine activists visit Hathras, Uttar Pradesh to document the aggrieved family’s account of the series of events related to the Hathras crime.

NAPM

Nine members to the National Alliance of People’s Movement’s (NAPM) representatives visited the Hathras victim’s family at Bulgarhi village on October 9, 2020 to listen to compile a detailed fact-finding report of the case. The activists attempted to highlight the inhumane factors of the incident. Accordingly, they expressed solidarity with the victim’s family, who was dubbed ‘Dasya’ in the report, in their battle against casteist politics and injustice.

While detailing events of the past two months, activists like Medha Patkar and advocate Ehtesham Hashmi highlighted said the Hathras crime – that occurred 14 years after the Khairlanji massacre of Scheduled Caste people in Bhandara district of Maharashtra – indicated the cumulative effect of caste and gender on marginalised communities.

Role of caste in Hathras crime

The report described the case as being “entangled in a controversy but also in the casteist politics, denying the facts narrated by the family and openly accusing them of lying and honour killing.”

Bulgarhi village, where the incident took place, is home to 15 Dalit families out of more than 600 families that have experienced a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over several decades. The minority group only recently began to stand up to upper caste families like the Thakurs who use services of Dalit families as agricultural labourers.

Similarly, Dasya’s family has a strained relationship with their neighbours, the Thakur family. In the 1990s, the family was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s government. However, the family only received three and half bighas while the rest was allegedly encroached upon by a Brahmin family. They lived quietly and earned a small supplementary income from cattle rearing and selling milk – until 20 years ago, the Thakurs allegedly attacked Dasya’s grandfather.

“They came into our field to graze their buffalos and my grandfather requested them to take the animals elsewhere as our crops would get damaged. Angered that a Dalit could tell them this, they attacked him with a knife-like object. When my grandfather tried to protect his neck, the knife cut away his fingers,” said Dasya’s brother.

According to the Police Chief Vir, Ravi was involved in the attack on Dasya’s grandfather. However, his father had been jailed in connection with the attack. Even so, owing to the peace in the last two decades, the heinous crime on September 14 was a severe shock to the family.

Regaining consciousness at the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, in Aligarh University, Dasya had accused Sandeep, Ravi, Ram and Lavkush of sexually assaulting her. She also talked about how the four men harassed her for six months and recollected an incident where she was pulled by Sandeep, who had a history of high alcohol consumption, but had escaped. Yet, following her death, the family was accused of honour killing Dasya for her alleged relationship with the accused Sandeep.

Incensed upon hearing the incident, Dalit rights activist Shyoraj Jivan said that anyone who looks at Dalit girls with a wrong intention would have their “eyes gouged out,” following which he was arrested. While none of Dasya’s family members approved of Jivan’s statement, they were disheartened to learn that their only supporter from the Valmiki community was kept away.

Similarly, Ambedkarite Dr. Jyoti Bansal stayed with the family to support their fight for justice.

“When she spoke to Babuji (father), he felt highly consoled. We could find him interacting with her and coming out of depression to an extent. We, therefore, requested her to stay back and she did. She also stayed for the second night on our insistence and changed the atmosphere in the hours, in spite of a large police force surrounding us for 24x7 and outsiders continuing to visit and question. When these are the facts, we feel sad that she is blamed as a Naxal,” said the sister-in-law with her voice breaking, as per the report.

It may be mentioned that higher officials in state administration refrained from offering their support to the family. Even a Member of Parliament from the same constituency, who also belongs to the Dalit community gave a half-hearted response in the Hathras case.

Administrative and police mismanagement

Regarding the police and state administration, the members heavily criticised the Uttar Pradesh police allowing the atrocious violation of the Dalit woman’s and the family’s Constitutional as well as human rights.  

“There is no doubt that the police of Uttar Pradesh behaved in a highly suspicious as well as vicious manner, beyond anyone’s expectation and they have, thereby created all doubts about their intentions,” said the report.

In the same vein, they condemned the arrests of 3 active leaders of the Union of Working Journalists from Kerala and the state police’s manhandling of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi on their way to the victim’s family as an act of criminalising dissent and strangulating opposition in ‘democratic’ India.

Although the NAPM group did not face such hostility from police when they visited Dasya’s home, they mentioned that 10-12 of saffron-turban-clad Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha activists were allowed to meet the ‘victim’ Thakur family in a single group while the NAPM members were only allowed to enter the village in batches.

Members also denounced the forceful cremation of Dasya’s body without allowing the family to conduct final rites, and rejected the reasoning of the state government that the body was disposed to curb future violence. They recalled how the family had requested the officials to allow the body to reach the cremation grounds. However, police paid no heed to their wishes.

“Such an awfully inhuman and criminal act on the part of the state with no repentance, nor any response to our serious questions or legal challenge, has proved that the state itself wanted to suppress the issue with casteist, manuvadi and inhuman anti-woman elements exposed through this and other incidences in Unnao, Balarampur, or Azamgarh cases, before and after,” they said.

However, the disrespectful cremation was only the worst of the many injustices done by the police while handling the investigation. The NAPM members said that the police had failed in their role right from the very first time Dasya was taken to the Balga hospital in Hathras. The police had not briefed the doctors of an alleged sexual assault case or the need for a medical examination which would have been crucial to further investigation as per section 375 of the Indian Penal Code.

“This passage, rather wastage, of time could be deliberate since late examination couldn’t ever prove rape. The intention obviously could be to miss or lose evidence forever,” said the report.

They also expressed dismay with the medical staff who did not question the victim’s family after looking at the injuries done to her neck and spinal cord. In fact, throughout their time in the hospital, the family felt the doctor’s and medical staff were under external pressure.

This fact is made all the more frustrating after members mention a Medico Legal Case report that states there were signs of vaginal penetration by penis. This report was not immediately made available to the family. It may be noted that a report from the forensic department of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) later ruled out this possibility.

While talking about Dasya’s medical treatment, the organisation also dismissed allegations against the family of interfering with her medical treatment by taking her to Safdarjung hospital instead of AIIMS.

“We were told, when asked, that the AIIMS and Safdarjung are the same. We couldn’t argue as we are not educated nor knowledgeable about Delhi and the medical services,” said the family.

Other than the police and hospital personnel, the family also recounted how the father was treated by the District Magistrate who called him for questioning. Instead of queries he received an unclear message the very next day of the crime that he and his family should convey satisfaction to all about the police enquiry and the medical treatment.

“This itself conveys the state was preparing to suppress the truth and close the case forever. Things changed after civil society and a group of courageous media started raising the issue and bringing out the truth. No doubt the judiciary also had to hear, if not do justice with due urgency, when the common citizens, not just activists, also started reacting to the brutalities as well as the State’s misleading deeds and statements,” said the report.

What about the family?

While talking, activists learnt that Dasya’s family had not bothered to check their bank accounts for the compensation amount of Rs. 25 lakhs promised by the state government following public outrage. It is unclear whether they even accepted the Rs. 8-10 lakhs given under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act because “the money is of no use” to them without justice for their daughter.

To this, the Allahabad High Court order said that if the family doesn't accept it, then the District Magistrate should keep the money in a separate account for future use.

Meanwhile, Dasya’s family waits for justice. Her mother found her unconscious body in the field while her brother rushed to the spot on a bike, reported the crime at the Chandpa police station and then took his sister to the Balga Hospital in Hathras. Devoid of any hope of the state government, the family now waits for the Supreme Court to deliver justice.

Fact Finding report can be read here:

Related:

Hathras case: Two doctors who questioned the FSL Reports, scolded by senior doctors and later sacked by AMU
Hathras case: SC reserves order on transfer of case outside UP
Caste attacks on Dalits continue: Panchayat to support rape and murder accused!
UP Police breached the law in Hathras

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