‘Media will go, we’ll still be here’: Top official on visit to Hathras family
The family of the Uttar Pradesh’s Dalit woman, who died days after being gang-raped and tortured in Hathras, has alleged being made to feel the “pressure” from a senior district official who visited them today. A 22-second video of the Hathras district magistrate Praveen Kumar speaking to the family in a courtyard has been widely shared online.
The video shows Kumar telling the father of the woman that the media will go away in a day or two and that he should stick to his statement.
“These media persons are not here to stay. Half would go today and the remaining will move away tomorrow and only few will remain. It is we who would stand with you and thus it is your wish if you want to change your statements or not. Do not harm your credibility, else we might also change…,” says the district magistrate in the video, before it ends abruptly.
There is another video in which a woman from the victim’s family is seen blaming the district administration for putting pressure on the victim’s father.
Repeated efforts were made to obtain the district magistrate’s version on this issue, but he did not take the call.
When asked, Aligarh divisional commissioner GS Priyadarshi indicated he was not aware of the content of the video.
“I can react once I come across the content of the said video,” Priyadarshi said.
A senior Uttar Pradesh police officer said today the forensic report has revealed that the woman was not raped. Citing a forensic science laboratory (FSL) report, ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the cause of her death is an injury on the neck and trauma resulting due to it.
“The report of the FSL has come. It says clearly that samples did not have sperm. It makes clear that there was no rape or gang rape,” Kumar said.
Last week, Hathras ASP Prakash Kumar had told mediapersons that initially the accused were booked for attempt to murder under Section 307 of the IPC. Later, on receiving more inputs, Section 376-D (gangrape) of the IPC was added to the FIR, he had said.
On Wednesday, the family had alleged that the UP police forced the cremation of the woman who was brutally raped by four men. The Yogi Adityanath government has been accused of trying to suppress the collection of additional forensic evidence and prevent the ballooning of protests through the forced cremation.
District officials contended that they had consent from the woman’s family, but the manner in which the developments took place raised questions over the conduct of the administration and law enforcement.
The woman succumbed to injuries in Delhi on Tuesday and the body was moved later that night to her hometown 200km away. The cremation was carried out at 2.30am amid heavy deployment of police, who stopped locals and the media from approaching the site.
“The police have forcibly taken the body and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police,” the woman’s brother was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
Hathras DM Praveen Kumar had denied the charges. “The funeral was conducted with the due permission of the father. No one in the family, except a handful, have levelled such charges. Initially, family was not prepared to shift the victim to Delhi for better treatment but later agreed to it,” the DM had told the PTI.