Candle light march against the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)
Candle light march against the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh.(Satish Bate/HT Photo)

Hathras gang-rape case: Mahapanchayat presses for CBI probe, demands release of accused

The mahapanchayat threatened to launch an agitation if the accused are not released and also referred to the report of the Agra Forensic Science Lab.
By Hemendra Chaturvedi | Hindustan Times, Agra
UPDATED ON OCT 02, 2020 10:15 PM IST

Members from Brahmin and Thakur communities, among others, attended a mahapanchayat at Baghna village - two kilometres from the Hathras gang rape and murder victim’s village Boolgarhi - on Friday and said all the four accused in the case were innocent. They also demanded a CBI probe. The accused have been arrested and all of them belong to the so-called upper castes.

The mahapanchayat threatened to launch an agitation if the accused are not released and also referred to the report of the Agra Forensic Science Lab. On Thursday, additional director general of police (law and order) Prashant Kumar and Hathras district magistrate Praveen Kumar had quoted the report of the forensic science lab to deny the gang rape.

“There was representation of all in the mahapanchayat. We demand a CBI probe into the matter, besides the narco test of the accused and the victim’s families so that the actual culprit gets punished. The forensic science lab has not confirmed gang rape, thus all four (accused) should be released,” said Sumant Kishore Singh, representative of Hasayan block.

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“We will meet the members of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Saturday and apprise them of the truth. If we do not get justice even then, a bigger agitation will be called,” said an upper caste member who attended the mahapanchayat.

The state government has formed a three-member SIT to probe the case and the district administration has claimed that the matter will be heard in a fast-track court. The victim belonged to the Valmiki (Dalit) community and had named four accused for brutalising and gang-raping her.

She was allegedly gang-raped and brutalised on September 14. After battling for life at JN Medical College in Aligarh, she was moved to New Delhi on September 28 and died at Safdarjung Hospital the next day.

Initially, a case under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code (attempt to murder) was registered against an accused. Thereafter, Section 354 (attempt to outrage modesty) was added. Finally, a case of gang rape (376D) was registered against four accused, all of whom are in custody.

Victim’s village out of reach

As for Boolgarhi village, it became inaccessible to the media on Friday with barricading and police personnel deployed at all possible locations. Officials said the ongoing SIT probe was the reason for the restrictions.

“The three-member Special Investigation Team is conducting the probe in the village. Till then, entry of the media is to remain restricted. We are also maintaining law and order. Hence, no political delegations and individuals are allowed inside the village,” said additional superintendent of police (ASP) Prakash Kumar in Hathras.

Also read: Hathras protest latest updates - ‘No politics on this issue’, says Arvind Kejriwal at Delhi protest

All through the day, journalists tried in vain to enter the village for an interaction with the victim’s family. There were allegations that the cell phones of the family members were taken. But the police denied such charges.

“We are simply asking for permission to meet the family members which is being denied. We are not allowed to enter the village,” said a journalist.

Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) has been imposed to ensure law and order. Section 144 prohibits the assembly of four or more people.

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