‘Cops outside toilets of victim’s home’: Hathras off limits, family off the grid
The Uttar Pradesh police threw a cordon of officers round the village in Hathras district where a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped and murdered two weeks ago, 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 even on the mud tracks and in the fields -- to ward off any “outsiders” from accessing the village.
WATCH | Hathras case: UP CM Adityanath suspends SP, ordered narco-analysis tests
On Friday morning, a teenager who said he was a cousin of the victim, approached journalists waiting at the barricades and alleged that the administration had locked in the family, seized their mobile phones and even hit the victim’s father. “The police have occupied our house. They have even taken positions on the terrace,” the boy alleged.
A villager said on condition of anonymity that apart from the streets, police are also camping outside the toilets of the victim’s house. “The women of the house are finding it difficult to visit the toilet with policemen standing right outside,” said the person, who emerged from the village on the pretext of meeting a doctor.
The teenager said the family was desperate to meet the media. “My uncle (victim’s father) also made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the village with me. I know the secret exit routes through the agricultural routes because of which I could make it,” he said.
He further alleged that the police cut off the family’s contact with the outside world. “They have seized our mobile phones and won’t allow us to meet the media. All we want is speak to journalists about the pressure we are under,” he said. The teenager said that a senior officer even kicked the victim’s father in his chest on Wednesday, causing him to fall unconscious.
The police denied the charges, and pointed out that Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code – 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. “The three-member SIT 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 ASP Prakash Kumar in the afternoon.