Hathras family against CBI probe, demands SC inquiry
Family members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who died in a New Delhi hospital on September 29 after she was allegedly gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras and left partially paralysed said they were against a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe ordered by the Yogi Adityanath government and instead sought a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry.
“We do not require a CBI probe... we want an investigation to be held under a retired Supreme Court judge,” said the brother of the woman.
A Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the state government, meanwhile, continued its probe and recorded statements by family members of the woman, who was allegedly raped and left partially paralysed by four dominant-caste members on September 14 when she had gone to the fields to collect cattle fodder.
“We are open to anyone who wants to present himself before SIT and get his or her statement (recorded),” said senior Indian Police Service officer Bhagwan Swaroop, who heads the three-member team.
Scores of people held a meeting Sunday outside the house of a former BJP MLA in Hathras where they defended the accused in the alleged gangrape of a Dalit woman who later died, and demanded registration of an FIR against her family members.
Heavy police force was deployed in the vicinity of the residence of former BJP MLA Rajvir Singh Pehalvan, located around 8-9 kilometres from the victim’s village.
One of the organisers of the meeting and Pehalvan’s son Manveer Singh denied that the gathering comprised members from the upper castes and said they were from “different sections of society”.
“We welcome the CBI inquiry ordered by the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. We have faith in the investigation,” Singh said, and claimed that the victim’s family members were “changing their stand”.
“The entire scenario has been created to blame the government. The accused persons are in favour of any type of inquiry. But the victims are changing their stand every now and then. They do not want a narco test or a CBI probe. Now they want other kinds of inquiries,” he claimed.
On September 22, the victim of the gang rape— who died in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital where she had been shifted after her condition failed to improve in an Aligarh hospital where she was initially treated— recorded had her statement, claiming she had been raped and naming the four accused. Her mother’s statement echoed the claim.
On Sunday, Dalit leader and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad visited the family of the Hathras woman and demanded that a high-level security cover be provided to her relatives
“I demand ‘Y security’ for the family or I’ll take them to my house, they aren’t safe here. We want an inquiry to be done under the supervision of a retired Supreme Court judge”, he said.
Azad’s demand came a day after Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi visited the victim’s family and said the state government should take responsibility for the family’s safety.
“If ‘Y Plus’ category security cover can be provided to actor Kangana Ranaut, then why can it not be provided to the family of the victim,” Azad said, adding that if his demand was not met, he will organise a gherao of the state assembly.
Amid criticism of the government and the police’s handling of the case, CM Adityanath on Sunday asked officials to handle cases related to women, girls, Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) with sensitivity.
The CM said this to police and administrative officers during a coronavirus disease (Covid-19) review meeting. “The most complicated of problems could be solved through dialogue,” he said.
“Attempts must be made to sort out various problems through dialogue with the affected people. The police should act promptly and deal with sensitivity in cases related to women, girls, SCs and STs,” he said.
On Saturday, Adityanath had said his government was committed to ensuring justice to each and every victim. He said that efficient and sensitive policing was needed to strengthen the foundation of good governance, curb crime and maintain law and order in the country’s most populous state.
The CM had also sent senior officials including additional chief secretary (home) Awanish Awasthi and director general of police HC Awasthy to the village on Saturday to meet the woman’s family. Awasthi said any group with no more than five people was allowed to meet the victim’s family, a remark that came after journalists and politicians were previously turned away from the village.
Other accusations of missteps include allegations that the woman’s body was cremated by the police in the early hours of Wednesday without the family’s consent, triggering demonstrations across the country.
Chaotic scenes were witnessed on Sunday in Boolgarhi village of Hathras district when a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)delegation was about to enter the village and a Samajwadi Party (SP) team was leaving. Five SP leaders had gone inside the village. Anxious SP workers soon went out of control and jumped the barricades when RLD vice president Jayant Chaudhary and his supporters arrived at the spot
When some unidentified people started throwing stones, the police charged the crowd with batons while Chaudhary was interacting with a reporter. RLD workers rushed to rescue Chaudhary. The RLD leader downplayed the incident, but criticised the police for the lathi-charge on his delegation.
“This lathi-charge on Jayant Chaudhary reflects the jungle raj in Uttar Pradesh. He had gone to condole the death of the Hathras girl and was targeted in a planned manner,” said Kaptan Singh Chahar, a former spokesperson of RLD.
“Some RLD workers, including Pradeep Chaudhary, sustained major injuries,” Chahar said.
Sub-district magistrate Prem Meena denied a planned lathi-charge, and said that the police had resorted to a baton-charge to bring the situation under control after SP and RLD workers threw stones at the police.