The body of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who was raped and tortured by four men two weeks ago, was cremated by the police around 3 am on Wednesday in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, The Indian Express reported. Her family, however, has said they were not allowed to take her body home and were pushed to cremate her immediately.
“It appears that my sister has been cremated; the police are not telling us anything,” the woman’s brother told the newspaper at 3.30 am. “We begged them to let us bring her body inside the house one last time, but they didn’t listen to us.”
Four men had raped the woman in Hathras a fortnight ago, causing severe injuries, including multiple fractures. She had initially been admitted to the Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College And Hospital at the Aligarh Muslim University, but was moved to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on Monday. She died on Tuesday morning.
The four men have been arrested.
The woman’s family had said on Tuesday evening that they were being forced to return to Hathras as the authorities were trying to dispose of her body discreetly. The family, along with activists, protested outside the Safdarjung Hospital, demanding to know where her body was on Tuesday. The woman’s father and brother were reportedly taken away by the police.
Around midnight, the body reached Hathras, though the woman’s father and brother had not yet reached.
One of her other brothers told the newspaper at 1 am that the ambulance was on the main road but the police were not letting them take the body inside their home.
“They have switched on the lights of the cremation ground and are forcing us to perform her last rites right now,” he said. “We don’t want to cremate her in the middle of the night; we want to take her home. What is the rush? Our father hasn’t even reached home.”
Around two hours later, he claimed that the police were aggressive with them when the family refused to cremate her immediately.
“When my relatives tried to see what the police were doing, they kicked us, broke one of our relative’s bangles,” he said. “Out of fear, we have locked ourselves in. Why are they doing this?”
Videos and images on social media at this time showed a pyre being lit in the village but there were no family members around.
Hathras Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena confirmed to ANI that the last rites were performed. “Police and administration will ensure that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice,” he claimed.