Congress delegation led by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi to visit family of Hathras gang-rape victim
Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will meet the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was gang-raped and murdered in Hathras, along with other leaders on Saturday, a couple of days after they were stopped by the Uttar Pradesh police on their way to her village, the party said.
“Congress MPs under the leadership of former Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi will go to Hathras today afternoon to meet the grieving family of the 19-year-old daughter of Uttar Pradesh, who was brutally assaulted, murdered and the body cremated surreptitiously in the middle of night by Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government,” the party said in a statement.
“The Congress delegation led by Shri. Rahul Gandhi and Smt Priyanka Gandhi will meet the family members to hear their grievances and demand justice for the victim and her family who have been denied justice and severely traumatized by the BJP Government in their desperate attempt to hide the truth of the heinous crime perpetrated on the victim,” it added.
Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi were briefly detained on Thursday as they tried to visit Hathras on the grounds that there was a ban on public assembly in the area. The police took them to a guest house at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida before escorting them back to Delhi.
On Friday, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra attended a prayer meeting for the victim at a Valmiki temple in Delhi. She was joined hundreds of people, including Congress leaders PL Punia, Sushmita Dev, Anil Choudhary and BV Srinivas, to show solidarity with the woman. Priyanka Gandhi told reporters that she was at the event to express her condolences and offer prayers for the deceased. “We are all here to ensure that the girl gets justice. We will pressure the government to get her justice,” she said.
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The state police have deployed officers around the village, preventing journalists from meeting the family amid allegations that authorities seized the phones of the victim’s relatives and put them under surveillance. Since early Thursday, police set up barricades roughly 2km from the village on the main road, blocked off all access paths and deployed policemen on the mud tracks and in the fields to prevent any “outsiders” from accessing the village.
The police have said that Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people, was clamped in the area. A senior officer said the ongoing probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was the reason for the restrictions.
A four-member delegation of the Trinamool Congress, led by senior party leader Derek O’Brien, was also stopped on Friday by the police from going to the village of the gang-rape victim to meet her family.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered the suspension of Hathras’ superintendent of police Vikrant Vir and three other police officers for their handling of the case. The chief minister took the decision on the basis of an initial report of the SIT.
The woman was allegedly raped by four dominant-caste men on September 14 when she had gone to the fields in her village to gather cattle fodder. She was left partially paralysed and admitted for treatment in the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College of Aligarh Muslim University and then shifted to New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital when her condition did not improve. She died on Tuesday morning. The woman’s family has said she was forcibly cremated late in night.