SIT visits Hathras village; victim’s kin get police cover
A three-member special investigation team probing the gang rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman visited her village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district on Tuesday even as police accepted the family’s request for round-the-clock security and claimed the victim’s relatives feeling safe again.
Union minister of state for social justice Ramdas Athawale and a delegation of left parties met the family of the victim, whose death and subsequent forced cremation a week ago sparked widespread protests.
Athawale offered Rs 5 lakh as monetary help to the family and promised to take up the issue with chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
“This incident is heart-wrenching. This puts humanity to shame. We told the family that we are with them. Whatever CM has assured them should be implemented. The culprits should be hanged,” Ramdas said.
A joint delegation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) spent around two hours with the family.
“We have been told about the brutal gangrape... and that her cremation was done in the middle of the night without informing the family. These sort of things are unheard of in the 21st century and are a blatant violation of the Indian Constitution and the guarantees it gives to our people. We expressed our solidarity with her family,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
On September 14, the victim was raped by four members of the Thakur caste in Hathras district when she had gone to the fields to collect cattle fodder. She was partially paralysed in the attack.
As her condition deteriorated, she was moved to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital on September 28 and died in the early hours of September 29. At 2.30am the next day, the police forcibly cremated the body without the family’s consent in a field near the village.
Since then, political leaders have made a beeline to the village even as the government has denied she was raped, citing the forensic report. Five police officials have also been suspended in line with preliminary recommendations of the special investigation team (SIT).
On Tuesday, the SIT, which visited the village earlier, went to the site where the victim was cremated at 2.30am on September 30.
The team – comprising home secretary Bhagwan Swaroop, deputy inspector general of police Chandra Prakash and commandant of the Agra provincial armed constabulary Poonam-- also went to the site of the crime and interacted with people in the village.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Vineet Jaiswal said two women sub-inspectors (SIs) and six women constables have been stationed at the victim’s house. “Two security personnel have been deployed for the security of the victim’s brother.”
He said all aspects of the family’s security were being looked after by the police.
“One and half-section PAC is permanently camping there and is on duty 24 hours. Apart from this, three SHOs and a Deputy SP rank officer, in charge of the security, are also deployed,” Jaiswal told ANI.
The officer said he personally met the victims and assured them that all their security concerns, even if it arises in the future, will be taken care of.
“They seemed confident after our assurances, I also gave them my personal mobile number to reach out at any time,” he added.
He said that the police department will not allow holding any meetings, or panchayat in the village and its immediate vicinity in view of the security concerns. This came days after Brahmin and Thakur communities held a mega gathering or mahapanchayat two kilometres from the village and expressed support for the four men accused in the case.