The family of the Dalit woman, who died days after a brutal assault and gangrape in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday accused the Adityanath-led dispensation of putting pressure on them, NDTV reported. A video of Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar speaking to the family has been widely shared on social media.

“Do not finish your credibility,” Laxkar tells the family. “These media people...some left today and tomorrow more will leave. Only we will be here with you. Ok? It is up to you whether you want to change your statement or not. We can also change.”

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala questioned if the official is threatening the woman’s family.

In another video, a veiled woman, believed to be the sister-in-law, is seen crying, according to the channel. “They are putting pressure on us,” she said. “They are saying that if our daughter had died of coronavirus then she would have received compensation. They are saying the case will be disposed of. We are getting warnings. Our father is getting warnings.”

The woman is also reportedly heard saying that the district magistrate is trying to trick the family. “They are threatening us with videos of [woman’s] mother,” she added. “At that time she was speaking whatever came to her mind... They will not let us live here. The district magistrate is very cunning...They are pressuring us. They are forcing us and saying our statements are not reliable, we keep changing our statements and we have no credibility.”

However, Laxkar denied all the allegations levelled by the family and claimed he wanted to reassure them that the case will be heard in a fast track court. “I met with six family members of the victim yesterday and we spoke for about an hour and a half,” he told ANI. “I met with them again today to see their point of discontent. I deny the negative rumours which are rife about my interactions with them.”

‘Spoke about rape over a week after the incident’: UP Police

A video that has now gone viral on YouTube showed the woman saying that she was raped. In the video, purportedly of the woman, she is heard saying that two of the men who raped her were Ravi and Sandeep, who conspired with each other. The woman also said that they had tried to rape her earlier too, but she escaped. She said that other men who also participated in the rape fled on seeing her mother.

Circle Officer Brahm Singh, who recorded her statement on September 22, refused to comment on the video, The Hindu reported.

Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said that the woman spoke about being raped for the first time more than a week after the incident, NDTV reported. He added that rape charges against the accused were filed based on the woman’s complaint and no possibilities were being ruled out till the investigation concludes.

“We have always believed the version of victim from the day 1,” Kumar said amid pressure. “The first information report was lodged under the proper section. When the victim came along with her brother and mother to police station after an hour of the incident [on September 14], we registered the FIR under proper sections and she was sent to hospital. Then she was shifted to Aligarh Muslim University Hospital. There for the first time on 22 September, she talked about the sexual assault and we immediately added those sections and arrested everyone.”

The police official said the forensic report has clearly stated that there is no sperm or any other stain available on the collected sample. Experts, however, have pointed out that since the samples for the test were collected days after the crime, sperm would not be present. The autopsy report of the woman showed that she was strangled and suffered cervical spine injury, according to the news channel. The final diagnosis did not mention rape but pointed out that there were tears in her genitalia.

The rape case

Four upper-caste men raped and brutally assaulted the woman in Hathras on September 14. The woman died in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital in the early hours of Tuesday. The woman suffered suffered multiple fractures, a spinal injury and a deep cut in her tongue. The four men have been arrested.

The family members have alleged that the authorities did not take their permission before cremating their daughter in the early hours of Wednesday. Videos on social media showed the family arguing with policemen and weeping as the police insisted on cremating the woman without allowing them to take the body home.

The incident has led to nationwide protests and the police on Thursday briefly detained former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. They were on their way, along with hundreds of Congress workers, to meet the family members of the women in Hathras.

The Allahabad High Court took suo motu cognisance of the incident and the events leading up to the cremation of the woman. The court has directed top officials of the Uttar Pradesh government and the police to appear before it on October 12, saying the cremation “shocked their conscience”. The National Commission for Women also asked Uttar Pradesh’s director general of police to explain why the woman was cremated so quickly.

Opposition leaders have highlighted several other violent incidents in the state in recent days, including allegations of a similar gang rape of a Dalit woman in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh.