The police in Uttar Pradesh have named a Kerala journalist and three Campus Front of India members under sedition charges in connection with the Hathras gangrape case, The Indian Express reported. The four men were arrested on October 5 when they were on their way to Hathras district for having alleged links to the Popular Front of India and booked in a different sedition case.

The case registered on October 4 pertains to an alleged conspiracy to incite riots along caste lines and also to defame the Uttar Pradesh government over the gangrape and assault of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in the district. The police claimed that their investigation showed the four men were involved in the case.

The four men journalist Siddique Kappan and CFI members Atiq-ur Rehman, Masood Ahmed and Alam are presently lodged at Mathura jail. The CFI is the students’ wing of the Popular Front of India.

A local court has issued warrant B, which is a warrant for production, against the men, Hathras Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal said. The court issued the warrant on the basis of a report filed by the investigating officer in the case Laxman Singh, who is the station house officer of Chandpa. “We have served production warrant of all four persons to Mathura jail authorities,” Singh said. “The case is related to conspiracy to instigate riots.”

Meanwhile, Muzaffarnagar Police have also booked Rehman in a case relating to violence that took place during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in the district in December 2019. Rehman is a resident of Muzaffarnagar. The police have obtained a production warrant against Rehman in the case.

On October 5, the four men were detained at Maant toll plaza when the police “found the movement of a Swift Dzire car suspicious,” Gaurav Grover, senior superintendent of police, Mathura, had said. In an official statement, the police had said that they had seized their mobile phones, a laptop and some literature, which could impact law and order situation.

The men were arrested after Adityanath had alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s political opponents were attempting to conspire against it by “trying to lay a foundation for caste and communal riots through international funding”. The state police had also filed 19 first information reports in Hathras against unidentified persons for allegedly attempting to incite caste-based conflict after the woman’s death last month.

The four men were on October 7 produced before a court, which sent them to 14-day judicial custody. The Kerala Union of Working Journalists had written to Chief Minister Adityanath, urging him to release Kappan immediately, saying the Hathras police station and the state police department have not provided any information on taking him into custody. Kappan is the secretary of the union.

The rape case

On September 14, four upper-caste Thakur men had tortured and raped the Dalit woman. 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.

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”.