‘We hoped she will survive’: Unease shrouds Hathras rape victim’s village
Boolgarhi, a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, was tensely calm on Tuesday after a 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was gangraped and brutalised a fortnight ago, died in a New Delhi hospital. The police were keeping a wary watch on the village that has a mixed population of Dalits and upper-caste Thakurs to prevent the tension from flaring into violence.
The death of the woman in New Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital sparked protests by the Congress party and other opposition groups, who said the gangrape was another illustration of how much law and order had deteriorated in Uttar Pradesh under the watch of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“Nobody wants to speak about the incident. We never thought the incident would become so big. When the girl was shifted to a good hospital, we hoped she will survive,” said a resident of Boolgarhi, a village of just 750 people.
The 19-year-old and her mother had gone to the fields on September 14, and the young woman went missing soon after. She was later found, having been raped, beaten and tortured and her tongue cut after she bit down on it when the rapists tried to strangle her, according to the police account. All the four suspects have been arrested; their family members are in a state of shock.
Uttar Pradesh police and the Provincial Armed Constabulary were patrolling Boolgarhi, where local residents watched their village make it to television news headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Inspector general (Aligarh Range) Piyush Mordia has stationed himself at Chandapa Kotwali. “We are committed to ensure law and order,” Mordia said.
The rape victim was first admitted in Jawarhalal Nehru Medical College of Aligarh Muslim University from where she was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi when her condition didn’t improve. She died on Tuesday morning.
The news of the death of the woman, who used to live in a house opposite those of the accused, shook the families of the suspects. Women and elders in their families locked themselves up from inside.
One of the accused was married six years ago and has two children, but his wife has left the village with the children. Two other suspects are unmarried. The fourth suspect has shifted to the village from Agra.
Back in the city of Hathras, there were protests all around. Congress party workers, who took out a candle march, pledged justice for Hathras ki beti (daughter of Hathras).