Hours after the body of the 19-year-old Dalit gang rape victim was forcibly cremated by Uttar Pradesh officials, even as her grieving family was allegedly kept away from the spot and denied the right to perform the last rite, the state’s Chief Minister has said that he has constituted a Special investigation Team (SIT), and will take action.
He said this has been done “after a conversation with Respected Prime Minister @narendramodi Ji, who had spoken on the Hathras incident and said that strict action should be taken against the culprits.”
आदरणीय प्रधानमंत्री श्री @narendramodi जी ने हाथरस की घटना पर वार्ता की है और कहा है कि दोषियों के विरुद्ध कठोरतम कार्रवाई की जाए।
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) September 30, 2020
It took the CM 15 days, after the Dalit teenager’s rape and torture by ‘upper caste’ men was reported, and over 24 hours after the victim died, to react. Citizens and women’s groups, as well as secular parties have been protesting on the streets of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, demanding action and even the resignation of the UP CM for the way he has been handling the deteriorating law and order situation in his state. Protests began soon after the girl died of her injuries at a Delhi hospital earlier on Tuesday, September 29. The system failed her, and her family once again, in the hours that followed, and the teenager was cremated around 3 AM on Wednesday, September 30. Her family was kept away.
Even the leaders who were voted to power from the state continued to bury their head in the sand. A case in point is Smriti Z Irani, the Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development. She was elected from Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi Lok Sabha Constituency, and many years ago was seen protesting against rapes, but that was during the UPA regime. Today she retweeted official statements of fast track investigations etc, issued by the UP government. And then moved her focus on the Babri Masjid demolition verdict that has acquitted her party seniors today, and then congratulated the people of Amethi and thanked the UP CM for launching district joint hospital.
कोविड-19 से प्रभावी ढंग से लड़ने के लिए स्वास्थ्य क्षेत्र में आधारभूत ढांचा विकास की दिशा में अमेठी में 100 बेड वाला लेवल-2 जिला संयुक्त चिकित्सालय का लोकार्पण कर जनपद को और सक्षम व मजबूत बनाने के लिए यशस्वी मुख्यमंत्री @myogiadityanath जी का धन्यवाद एवं अमेठीवासियों को बधाई।
— Smriti Z Irani (@smritiirani) September 30, 2020
However, the opposition is taking the issue head on saying, “It is 30th, this was the first time the UP CM has spoken, and what does he say? That the PM called and I constituted the SIT?” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, lashed out at Adityanath on his response and said, “What kind of a CM are you,? Where were you sleeping for the last 14 days? Why didn’t you act?”
मैं यूपी के मुख्यमंत्री जी से कुछ सवाल पूछना चाहती हूँ-
परिजनों से जबरदस्ती छीन कर पीड़िता के शव को जलवा देने का आदेश किसने दिया?
पिछले 14 दिन से कहां सोए हुए थे आप? क्यों हरकत में नहीं आए?
और कब तक चलेगा ये सब? कैसे मुख्यमंत्री हैं आप? pic.twitter.com/Q2qPcDXDTT
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) September 30, 2020
The strongest statement so far has come from the All India Progressive Women’s Association ( AIPWA). The AIPWA has called the incident “Hathras Caste Supremacist Atrocity” and said “While the horrific nature of her injuries has been the focus of some attention in the media and social media, what has largely escaped attention is the horror of systematic caste supremacist treatment meted out to the victim and her family and community by the UP police, administration, and the Yogi and Modi Governments.”
It added that the Hathras police, when faced with the victim writhing in pain on the floor of the local police station, had initially claimed that the victim was faking her pain to “trap” the accused. The victim was denied adequate medical treatment for nearly a week. The victim and her family were denied dignity even in death and grief, said AIPWA as the police and District administration rejected the grieving family’s desperate pleas that they be allowed to take her body home one last time.
The statement added that the “refusal of the UP Govt and its machinery to allow a Dalit family the right to grieve their daughter and bid her farewell in keeping with their own emotions and customs, reeks of caste supremacy.” It also pointed out that the UP CM, “who shares a caste identity and caste supremacist ideology with the perpetrators, has maintained a deafening silence on the matter… the Thakur CM has carefully avoided acknowledging the incomparable grief of the parents and loved ones of a teenage Dalit woman, brutalised and killed by Thakur men.”
The UP CM has recently announced a “Durachari” scheme whereby the photographs of rape accused persons will be displayed in public all over UP. According to AIPWA as it is known “that all over India, nearly half of the rape complaints that are filed, are attempts by women’s parents to criminalise consensual elopements, especially inter caste and inter community relationships. So the scheme will be an excuse to further humiliate and stigmatise Dalit, OBC and Muslim men who are in relationships with women of dominant castes. Far from deterring crimes against women, the scheme will actually be a crime against women’s autonomy and right to choose a partner.”
With 51,824 cases of crimes against SCs registered under PoA Act between 2009 and 2018, UP ranks first in the category with 22.38% of total crimes. Of all crimes committed against the members of the Scheduled Castes, the highest are against Dalit women, the 2016 National Crime Records Bureau, the last data released nationally, shows. In recent months, there have been a spate of sexual assaults on women, children and Dalit women in particular, in UP, stated AIPWA, adding that “it is no secret that Yogi Raj in UP has emboldened Manuvadi forces to commit crimes in service of their caste supremacist ideology. The UP CM has made no secret he shares this ideology: in an infamous article in 2009, he had quoted Manusmriti to argue against women’s reservations in Assembly and Parliament on the grounds that women ought always to be kept under the control of men.”
The AIPWA has demanded justice for the Hathras victim and that the rapists be punished, it has also demanded “that the secret midnight cremation of the victim’s body without the presence of her parents and family be treated as a caste atrocity and senior police and administration officials be arrested and prosecuted under the PoA Act for this crime.”
The AIPWA national executive warned that “the UP Govt and police must not seek to silence protest and cover up their complicity by eliminating the perpetrators in a fake encounter. AIPWA will do everything it can to support the victim’s family in their quest for justice and accountability from the UP government and Central government.”
The Polit Bureau of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has also issued a following statement condemning the “actions of the Adityanath Government on the blatant denial of justice to the Hathras dalit rape victim and her family. Her death is the result of the callous approach of the Government.” It added that the “barbaric caste based rape crime is reflective of the utter lawlessness in UP under the BJP Government and the patronage given to casteist and reactionary forces leading to a big increase in crimes against dalits and women”. The CPI(M) has also demanded action against the police personnel who refused to file an FIR and also against those responsible for the forcible cremation.
Women, youth & student organisations held a militant protest today outside UP Bhavan in Delhi against the barbaric gangrape and murder of the 19 year Dalit girl from Hathras. The police under the Union Home Ministry severely manhandled the protesters & arrested them.#HathrasCase pic.twitter.com/5bQ8V8GKmS
— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) September 30, 2020
Meanwhile, the District Magistrate, who is representing the state Govt, seemed to be at a loss of words when reporters questioned him. The UP police had cited DM orders were cited by @Uppolice for cremating the victim’s body. However, he did not share any details and stuck to the official notes.
See how reporters question the system! Family was on their way. Villagers were screaming as witnessesed by @TanushreePande . Yet DM orders were cited by @Uppolice for cremating the victim’s body. #Hathras #HathrasHorror pic.twitter.com/GAZ1SXrXXQ
— Milan Sharma (@Milan_reports) September 30, 2020
He, however, did mention the monetary compensation that was promised to the victim’s family.
चंदपा थाना वाले प्रकरण में पीड़िता के परिजनों को पूर्व में 4,12,500 रुपए की आर्थिक सहायता दी गई थी। आज 5,87,500 रुपए की सहायता और दी जा रही है। इस प्रकार कुल 10 लाख रुपए की आर्थिक सहायता की गई है।@AwasthiAwanishK @ShishirGoUP@hathraspolice
— DM Hathras (@dm_hathras) September 29, 2020
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