Gujarat Congress Working President Hardik Patel, state party chief Amit Chavda and Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani were among dozens of protestors the Gujarat Police detained in Ahmedabad on Wednesday ahead of a rally seeking justice for the Dalit woman who was raped and murdered in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh last month, The Indian Express reported. Patel and Mevani were put under house arrest.

“Such is the destruction of democracy in Gujarat that I’m not allowed to participate in a Pratikar Rally seeking justice for Hathras victim,” Mevani tweeted. “I’m detained at Ahmedabad and not allowed to move out of my room. Hardik Patel is also not allowed to participate.”

“We had organised the Pratikar Rally in Ahmedabad today against the rapes happening in Gujarat and the rest of the country,” Patel tweeted in Hindi. “Two hours before the rally, I was put under house arrest. For five hours they left me under the watch of 30 policemen and then let me go. Is it a crime to raise your voice for the daughters of the country?”

Chavda, in a video message, had appealed people to participate in the march, which was to begin from Kochrab Ashram and end at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. He asked people to join the “non-political” protest march for the safety of women in the country and the state.

The rape case

On September 14, four upper-caste Thakur men had tortured and raped the Dalit woman in Hathras. She died on September 29, a day after being moved to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. She had suffered multiple fractures and other serious injuries, and was left paralysed. The four men have been arrested. However, the woman was hastily cremated by police against her family’s will, while they had been locked indoors. This has led to outrage and protests across the country.

There have been protests in parts of the country against the rape of the woman. In Uttar Pradesh, the protests have been led by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, who visited the family of the woman on October 3, after being stopped from doing so two days prior. Other politicians, from parties like the Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party have also made a beeline for Hathras.

The Uttar Pradesh administration has consistently denied that the woman was raped, based on a report from the forensic lab that had said there were no traces of sperm in samples taken from her. However, the chief medical officer at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College – where the woman was admitted – said the forensic lab’s report “holds no value” as it relied on samples taken 11 days after the crime was committed. Experts have also pointed out that since the samples for the test were collected many days after the crime was committed, sperm would not be present. The autopsy report of the woman had showed that she was strangled and suffered a cervical spine injury. The final diagnosis did not mention rape, but had pointed out that there were tears in her genitalia and there had been “use of force”.