Left parties on Sunday accused the Uttar Pradesh authorities of “playing tricks” to keep the family of the 19-year-old woman who died after being gangraped in Hathras, away from their fact-finding team, PTI reported. On Saturday, the Central Bureau of Investigation took over the case from the special investigation team of the police.

In a statement, the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Loktantrik Janata Dal said that the Uttar Pradesh administration was against their visit. The authorities told the parties that the family would be moved to Lucknow on Sunday morning. But the parties came to know that the family would in fact leave for Lucknow on Monday.

The fact-finding team comprised of Elamaram Kareem and Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya from Communist Party of India (Marxist), Binoy Viswam from the Communist Party of India and MV Shreyams Kumar from the Loktantrik Janata Dal.

In their statement, the Left parties said they had spoken to the woman’s family and the Hathras district authorities about their visit and fixed it for Sunday morning. “But on Saturday late evening, we got an information from police sources that the family had to be taken to Lucknow for a hearing in the high court on Monday,” the statement said. “It is to be noted that Lucknow is only 6-7 hours away from Hathras and they can reach there comfortably by Sunday evening even if the family leave from there at noon time.”

The team still decided to go to Hathras on Sunday morning, but found out that the family was being moved to Lucknow in the morning itself. “When we checked up with the family, they said that they have no idea about it and the police have instructed them to be ready to leave Hathras before 10 am,” the statement said. It alleged that the Uttar Pradesh Police deliberately misinformed the fact-finding team.

“The ugly face of BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] regime in UP is being unveiled through this,” the statement by the Left parties said. “We hereby urge the people of this country to unite and come forward against this anti-democratic government in UP. We will continue our fight against these forces and stand in solidarity with the victim’s family.”

Hathras Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal confirmed to PTI on Sunday morning that the family is still in the town. Sixty security personnel have been deployed and eight CCTV cameras have been installed at the woman’s house to protect her family. The house is being watched round-the-clock.

The family will appear before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday. The hearing is likely to be held in-person. The Lucknow bench had on October 1 summoned top government officials, saying it was “shocked” about the incident. It asked the authorities – additional chief secretary, home; director general of police; additional director general, law and order, and district magistrate and superintendent of police of Hathras – to appear before it by October 12 and submit a status report about the investigation.

The incident

The woman succumbed to her injuries at a hospital in Delhi on September 29. The four accused in the case have been arrested. However, Sandeep Thakur, the main accused, has written to the state police chief from jail claiming that the men are being framed. He had also claimed that the woman was a victim of “honour killing” as her family was opposed to their “friendship”.

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.

Opposition political parties have protested in Uttar Pradesh, and some have visited Hathras. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, however, has accused the Opposition of dividing the society along caste and community lines, and also of an “international conspiracy”. Adityanath’s comment has come amid intense criticism of his government’s handling of the case.