Fact-finding report alleges UP police protecting men suspected of beheading Dalit woman

A 40-year-old Dalit woman was found dead, chopped in three pieces, at a flour mill she used to work at. A fact-finding report points out that the police appear to be in a hurry to cover the incident up and designate it as an accident, and seem to be protecting the accused from charges of murder.

On October 31st, Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district saw a horrifying murder of a 40-year-old Dalit woman at a flour mill. One month later, a fact-finding report details the horrifying details of the murder, and also reveals how there appears to be a collusion between those accused of the murder and law enforcement agencies. Published last by Dalit Dignity and Justice Centre, Bundelkhand Dalit Adhikar Manch, Vidhya Dham Samiti, Chingari Sangathan, and Youth for Human Rights Documentation, the report has also highlighted that the accused have links with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

What had happened?

According to the report, the victim was reportedly subjected to a horrifying gang rape after which she was beheaded at a flour mill reportedly owned by a higher caste, Shukla family who are noted to hold influence in the area. The victim and her husband were both employed by the family.

The body of the woman was discovered when her daughter arrived at the mill after hearing her screams from the closed door of the mill. However, she wasn’t let in initially, but after some time she was let in only to see the body of her mother lying in three pieces. A complaint was registered after this against the mill owners, Rajkumar, his brother Bauwa Shukla and Ramakrishna Shukla.

The accused individuals have in turn stated that the deceased died due to an accident at their flour mill. Furthermore, the police investigation appears to have thus far corroborated this explanation without conducting a thorough and impartial inquiry, according to the report. The report also states that an accident at the flour mill does not seem to be corroborated by the evidence from the photographs of the crime scene, which does not show a lot of blood spatter in the vicinity of the flour mill itself. 

Accused being shielded

Furthermore, the report detailed that immediately after the incident as the family struggled to garner support and file an FIR at the Police Station, the DSP Nitin Kumar, DSP arrived at the village and tried to persuade the villagers that the incident was an accident at the flour mill. He furthermore briefed the media similarly about the nature of the incident being an accident even before an examination of the witness took place, the report details. Going further, just a few days after the incident, on November 2, 2023, Superintendent of Police Ankur Agrawal took to X and stated that after a preliminary investigation, it is understood that the incident occurred accidentally due to the victim getting stuck in the flour mill.

The fact-finding report points to major gaps in the investigation process and concerns about deliberate negligence by law enforcement agencies. The news that the accused Shukla family, known for their social and political influence, particularly ties to the ruling political party, further makes the situation look grim. There have been glaring mishaps of justice, according to the report. One of them being that the post mortem report too was only able to be done after the villager’s exerted pressure. It is reported that the authorities initially sought to dispose of the body without conducting a post-mortem. 

Suspected collusion between police and accused

Complicating matters further, two out of the three named accused individuals remain at large and appear to wield influence over the ongoing investigation. There are even reports that the crime scene, which is part of the property owned by the accused, was not sufficiently sealed. Similarly, the arrest of the third accused under lesser charges seems to be an attempt at quelling public anger, according to the report.

Moreover, the FIR does not charge the accused on serious offences and has charged three people under Sections 302 and 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The fact-finding report details that despite the serious nature of the charges outlined in the FIR, the authorities did not take any measures to apprehend the accused individuals and instead, the alleged perpetrators were seen freely moving about and, furthermore, actively influencing and diverting the direction of the investigation. Rajkumar Shukla, who is one of the accused, was even seen present at the post-mortem facility giving a statement to a media reporter.

It was only after witnessing complete inaction, that the villagers collectively called for a protest on November 16, after which Rajkumar was arrested. However, he was arrested under charges such as death to negligence, under sections 304A, 287, 201 and Section 3(2)(v) of the SC/ST Act.



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