The authorities in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday imposed Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which prohibits the assembly of more than four people, in the Hathras district, where four men from the Thakur community gangraped and brutally assaulted a Dalit woman a fortnight ago, ANI reported.
The restrictions were imposed ahead of Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi visit to the woman’s family on Thursday.
“Borders of Hathras are sealed,” Hathras District Magistrate P Lakshkar told ANI. “Section 144 of CrPC has been imposed in the district, more than 5 people are not allowed to gather. Lakshkar added that a Special Investigation Team will meet the woman’s family later in the day, and media would not be allowed.
Meanwhile, Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir told ANI that the woman’s medical report from Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital at the Aligarh Muslim University, where she was initially admitted, mentioned she sustained injuries but did not confirm forced sexual intercourse.
“They’re waiting for the report of forensics,” Vir added. “As of now, doctors say that they’re not confirming rape, can give firm opinion only when they get FSL [forensic lab] report.”
The woman died on Tuesday at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. She had suffered multiple fractures and other serious injuries when she was assaulted by four upper caste men from her village on September 14. The four men have been arrested.
Her family say the police cremated the girl’s body in a hurry without the family’s consent at 3am on Wednesday, and locked them in their homes. Videos on social media showed the family arguing with policemen and weeping as the police insisted on cremating the body without allowing them to take the body home.
The incident has triggered nationwide outrage against sexual violence that women face, and has foregrounded the deteriorating law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh. Several politicians called the hasty cremation an abuse of human rights. They have also questioned the exploitative caste hierarchy in the state under Adityanath’s rule.
The Congress has been at the forefront of a campaign against the BJP over the matter and has demanded Adityanath’s resignation. Party president Sonia Gandhi said the woman was killed by a “ruthless government”, which was now trying to cover up the matter. Priyanka Gandhi said Adityanath had no moral right to remain the chief minister anymore, while Rahul Gandhi called the events a “shameful ploy” of the government to suppress Dalits.
Over 80 people were detained from outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhavan in Delhi on Wednesday during two separate protests against the death of the 19-year-old from Hathras, according to The Indian Express. Two separate FIRs were registered against the protestors at Chanakyapuri police station.
“Today [Wednesday] around 11.30 am, members of different parties (Left) tried to reach UP Bhavan, SP Marg, to stage a protest demanding harsh punishment for accused persons in Hathras gangrape case,” District Commissioner of Police, New Delhi, Eish Singhal, said. “A total of 80 persons were detained and removed from the spot.”
While one protest was organised by Left women and student organisations, the other one was led by the Indian Youth Congress and Delhi Mahila Congress.
Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who was accompanying the family of the woman from Delhi to Hathras, on Wednesday said he was also detained by the Uttar Pradesh Police midway and put under house arrest in Saharanpur.
“The whole world saw how our sister was cremated at night in the absence of the family and without their consent, in connivance of the government and the police,” Azad tweeted. “The morality of these people is dead. I was detained by their police the night before and now I have been put under house arrest in Saharanpur. But we will fight.”
In a separate tweet on Thursday, Azad added that he was sitting on a dharna at his residence. “So far, the false DM and SSP of Hathras who have been protecting criminals and performing inhuman acts have not been removed,” he said. “How can one expect justice from such unworthy people.”
Adityanath should resign, says Mayawati
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati on Thursday demanded Chief Minister Adityanath’s immediate resignation. “Not a single day passes in UP without any crime against women,” she said. “Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should resign if he can’t ensure safety to women. He is unable to maintain law and order in the state. I urge the Centre to send him to his place – Gorakhnath Math.”
Mayawati also spoke about another rape case that was reported from the state’s Balrampur district. “After Hathras incident, I hoped UP govt will take action against people committing crimes against women,” she added. “But a similar crime has been committed against a Dalit student in Balrampur. Under BJP’s UP government, criminals, mafias and rapists are having a free run.”