Activists hold placards during a protest over the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman after an alleged gangrape in UP's Hathras, in Guwahati, Saturday, October 3.(PTI)
Activists hold placards during a protest over the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman after an alleged gangrape in UP's Hathras, in Guwahati, Saturday, October 3.(PTI)

Hathras gang-rape accused defended at meeting held at ex-BJP MLA’s residence

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.
By Press Trust of India | Posted by Arpan Rai | Lucknow/ Hathras
UPDATED ON OCT 04, 2020 10:19 PM IST

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 told PTI while claiming 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.

He said an FIR should be registered by police against the complainants in the case. “Our demand is that a case should be filed against those people who had filed the case in the first instance,” he said. The 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped by four upper caste men in Hathras on September 14. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital where she had been brought for treatment.

On Sunday, Singh also said various legal options were being explored to defend the accused in the case. He asserted that the arrest of some of the accused persons from their homes was proof of their innocence.

“Had they been guilty, they would have run away from their homes. Why would they be present in their homes,” he said.

He also alleged that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party were trying to influence the victim’s family as they wanted to the issue to “linger on”.

The meeting assumes significance as it was held a day after Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the victim’s house and met her family members at a village in Hathras district, and the recommendation of a CBI probe by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

The victim was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on Wednesday. Her family alleged that they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, had said the cremation was carried out “as per the wishes of the family”.

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