Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir and four other police officers were suspended on Friday amid massive outrage over the gangrape and death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in the district, ANI reported.
Apart from Vir, the Adityanath-led government has suspended Circle Officer Ram Shabd, Inspector Dinesh Meena, Sub Inspector Jagveer Singh and head constable Mahesh Pal. The officials were sacked after an initial report was submitted by the Special Investigation Team, formed to conduct an inquiry into the case.
The team called for their suspension over allegations of mismanagement, according to NDTV. The SIT also asked for a narco-polygraph test of all the people involved in the case, including the accused and the woman’s family.
The UP government is facing immense criticism about the deteriorating law and order situation in the state and the exploitative caste hierarchy under Adityanath’s tenure. Earlier in the day, the chief minister had asserted that his government was committed to the safety of women.
Protest in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, several leaders of his Aam Aadmi Party and Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday joined hundreds of people at the Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against the gangrape and death of the 19-year-old Dalit woman.
Kejriwal said that the whole country wanted strict punishment for the accused, adding that attempts were being made to protect them. “Some people feel that attempts are being made to save them,” he said, according to ANI. “At this time, the victim’s family needs all the possible help.”
The Delhi chief minister added that the accused must be hanged as soon as possible, NDTV reported. “We have assembled here in grief,” he said. “I pray to God that our daughter’s soul gets peace. I request the Uttar Pradesh government with my hands folded, hang the guilty as soon as possible. They should get such a punishment that no one will dare commit a crime like this again.”
Azad, meanwhile, said that his organisation’s struggle will continue till Adityanath does not resign, ANI reported “I will visit Hathras,” he said. “Our struggle will continue till the time UP CM [chief minister] doesn’t resign and justice is served. I urge Supreme Court to take cognisance of the incident.”
The Bhim Army chief also said that the woman was “burnt like garbage”, according to The Indian Express. “The police burnt her with petrol even though the family did not give permission,” he said. “She was burnt like garbage. They have no right to do that.”
The case has evoked massive anger among political circles and the public. Earlier on Friday, the Uttar Pradesh Police allegedly manhandled members of the Trinamool Congress, including MP Derek O’Brien, as they were going to Hathras to meet the young woman’s family. This came a day after the police briefly detained Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on their way to Hathras. The police later filed cases against them under the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The Hathras case
The Uttar Pradesh Police on Thursday claimed that the woman’s forensic lab report showed that she was not raped. Experts, however, pointed out that since the samples for the test were collected days after the crime, sperm would not be present, NDTV reported. 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.
Later in the day, the Allahabad High Court took suo motu cognisance of the Hathras gangrape case and directed top government officials and the police to appear before it on October 12. The judges said that the case had shocked their conscience.
Two weeks ago, the Dalit woman was tortured and raped by four upper caste men. The woman died on Tuesday at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. She had suffered multiple fractures and other serious injuries when the four accused raped her in her village on September 14. The four men have been arrested. However, the woman was hastily cremated on Wednesday midnight, without allowing her family to perform the last rites.