Congress and Bhim Army members on Tuesday evening started a protest outside the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi after the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman, reported PTI. Four men had raped her in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district a fortnight ago, causing severe injuries, including multiple fractures. The woman succumbed to her injuries earlier in the day.

The woman’s family is also protesting outside the hospital, NDTV reported.

The woman had been initially admitted to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College And Hospital at the Aligarh Muslim University but was moved to the Safdarjung Hospital’s intensive care unit in Delhi on Monday.

Her family claimed that they were being forced to return to Hathras as the authorities were trying to dispose of her body discreetly, according to NDTV. The 19-year-old woman’s family along with protestors and activists were earlier camping outside the Safdarjung Hospital, demanding to know where her body was. The family said they would not move from there till they were told the whereabouts of the woman’s body and assured of justice. The woman’s father and brother were later reportedly taken away by the police.

Unidentified police officials, meanwhile, said that the protests were becoming unmanageable, especially given that distance among people was necessary due the coronavirus pandemic. The police accused the protestors of breaking physical distancing norms and said many of them were not wearing masks.

Security arrangements outside the hospital were tightened after a multitude of activists and citizens also joined the protest. Hundreds of people reportedly gathered around a black SUV with a Uttar Pradesh number plate, in which a police officer could be seen sitting. Heated arguments broke out between and the protestors and police personnel, who tried to disperse the crowd.

The incident has sparked outrage in political circles cutting across party lines.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi said there have been several incidents of rape in Hathras, Shahajahanpur and Gorakhpur in the recent past. “The law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh has completely deteriorated,” she alleged.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav condemned the incident, adding: “There is no hope left from this insensitive government.”

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the death of the woman was a matter of shame for the country. “The death of Hathras victim is shameful for the entire society, country as well as for all the governments,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi. “It’s highly sad that so many daughters are being sexually assaulted and we have not been able to protect them. The guilty must be hanged at the earliest.”

Increasing crime against women in UP

Earlier this month, a three-year-old girl was gangraped and killed in a sugarcane field in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district.

On August 28, a man in Uttar Pradesh’s Maharajganj district raped and murdered a 12-year-old girl and left her body in a forest.

On August 24, a 17-year-old girl was found dead near her house in the same district. The police said the minor was raped before being killed with a sharp weapon. Ten days before that, a 13-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly raped and murdered in the district. The body of the girl, who was strangled with her tongue allegedly cut, was found in a sugarcane field owned by one of the accused. The police had arrested four men in connection with the case.