Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday criticised the Uttar Pradesh government over another alleged incident of rape and asked how many more cases like Hathras would take place in the state.
“Unable to prevent rape, the Uttar Pradesh government, instead of getting justice for the victim’s family, was again suppressing facts to save the accused,” the Congress leader tweeted. “How many more girls? How many more Hathras?”
With the tweet, Gandhi also tagged a media report which said that a Dalit girl was raped before being killed in the Barabanki district. The report added that the victim’s family has accused the police of trying to cover up the case.
Several opposition leaders, including Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, have attacked the Adityanath-led government over the rape and assault of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in the state’s Hathras district on September 14.
Last week, Rahul Gandhi had criticised the Uttar Pradesh government and the police for denying that the woman was raped. “The shameful truth is many Indians don’t consider Dalits, Muslims and Tribals to be human,” Gandhi had said in a tweet. “The CM [Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath] and his police say no one was raped because for them, and many other Indians, she was NO ONE.”
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 two Congress leaders had met the woman’s family on October 3. They had tried to go to Hathras on October 1 too, but were detained by the police. Later in the day, the police filed a first information report against them under sections 188, 269 and 270 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.
The woman in Hathras had died on September 29. In the events that followed, the Uttar Pradesh government forcibly cremated the body of the woman even as her family was detained in their home by the police, with the aim to stop the incident from becoming a focus of protests. The Central Bureau of Investigation on October 10 took over the inquiry into the case.
The case has now become emblematic of the caste-based sexual violence faced by Dalit women in the state. As per the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly ten Dalit women are raped every day in the country, with Uttar Pradesh topping the figures.