Hathras in Uttar Pradesh has landed in the national spotlight following the death of a 19-year-old Dalit girl. The UP government has formed a special investigation team (SIT) that visited the victim’s home in Boolgarhi village on Wednesday and spoke to the family.
In their initial statement to the police, family members had alleged that they found the girl in a field on September 14 and she was gang-raped by four men allegedly from local upper-class households. The victim was taken to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (JNMC) hospital in Aligarh and later shifted to Delhi after her condition worsened.
She succumbed to internal injuries in the early hours of Tuesday. Allegations of laxity have been levelled against the state government and Uttar Pradesh Police. Family members have alleged that her body was cremated by the police in the middle of the night against their wishes.
The victim’s brother has also refuted claims denying rape made by the ADG. “We are not satisfied with the investigation at all. We want a CBI investigation in this case,” he told India Today in an exclusive conversation.
The Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on Thursday took suo motu cognisance of the Hathras case and issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh government in this regard.
Here are top ten developments in the case:
1. On Thursday morning, Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar sealed the district borders. The decision was made hours after Congress general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi and former party president Rahul Gandhi announced their plan to visit the family of the victim. Ground reports also revealed that heavy police deployment has been ensured around the victim’s home to prevent the family from interacting with the media.
2. Women lawyers, in an open letter to Chief Justice of India SA Bobde demanded immediate action against police and administration officials responsible for the victim’s death. They further sought the constitution of a High Court-monitored investigation and trial into the matter and guidelines to ensure that no victim or family members suffer the same fate.
3. The post-mortem report of the 19-year-old girl conducted by Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital revealed that there were “extravasations of blood along the fracture line” and the underlying spinal cord was “contused with ascending oedema”. It went on to add that “ligature mark over the neck is consistent with attempted strangulation but (it) did not contribute to death in this case”.
4. Tension prevailed on the Yamuna Expressway when UP Police halted Congress leaders Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi’s convoy citing prohibitory orders under section 144 in Hathras. The two, along with party workers, decided to cover a distance of more than 100 km on foot. Visuals show the police roughing up Rahul Gandhi and initiating a lathi charge on Congress workers. However, both Rahul and Priyanka were detained and taken to F1 guesthouse before being escorted back to Delhi. Opposition leaders have condemned the UP Police and administration’s handling of the situation.
5. Principal of the JNMC hospital in Aligarh, where the victim was treated for the first two weeks after the incident, Professor Shahid Ali Siddiqui said they do not know why she was taken to Safdarjung hospital in Delhi. He went on to add JNMC referred her to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), instead, she was taken to Safdarjung either upon her family’s insistence or at the direction of the Hathras administration.
6. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who has been with the victim’s family in the last few days, was put under house arrest at his home in UP’s Saharanpur. Former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers Mayawati of the BSP and Akhilesh Yadav of the SP on Thursday demanded CM Yogi Adityanath’s resignation while their party workers staged demonstrations in various parts of the state.
7. Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law & Order) Prashant Kumar made a statement citing the forensic science laboratory (FSL) report to suggest that the victim was not raped. “No semen has been found in the forensic report. The FSL report has already clarified that there was no rape on the victim,” he claimed. Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate has responded to the ADG’s claim saying “Section 375 of the IPC was amended by the High Court in State of UP vs Babulnath 1994 which clearly says that not just discovery of semen or penetration but even the attempt to do so constitutes rape.”
8. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath interacted with the victim’s father through video-conference on Thursday. The state government later issued a statement signed by the victim’s kin stating they are satisfied with assurances given to them by the CM.
9. Another video of the girl’s father posted on Twitter by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra shows the man saying that he was pressurised by officials of the state administration and police to interact with the CM and three family members were made to sign the statement released on Thursday by the state government. The father can also be heard demanding a CBI inquiry into the case.
10. However, the most shocking development in the Hathras case was a video that surfaced on Thursday showing DM Praveen Kumar Laxkar trying to intimidate the victim’s family. “You need to maintain your credibility. Half of the media people have left and the others will leave by tomorrow but we will be here,” Hathras DM Praveen Laxkar can be heard telling her father in the video. When confronted over his statement to the victim’s father, DM Laxkar chose to remain silent.