A man accused of molestation, who was briefly jailed in 2018 and has been out on bail, on Monday allegedly shot the woman’s father in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, said the district police chief. The father died while on the way to the hospital.
“The man who died had filed a case against Gaurav Sharma in July 2018 for molestation,” Hathras Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal said in a video statement released on Twitter. “The accused went to jail and got bail after a month. Since then, both families were hostile to each other.”
The incident took place around 4.30 pm, when an argument between the families of the woman and the accused outside a village temple escalated. “The wife and aunt of the main accused had gone to a village temple to pray where both daughters of this man were present,” said police chief Jaiswal. “The women had an argument. The accused – Gaurav Sharma – and the woman’s father intervened and the argument between the men intensified. After this, Gaurav flew into a rage and called some boys from his family to the scene and shot at the man.”
A family member of Gaurav Sharma has been arrested in the case so far.
In videos shot by local journalists, the woman can be seen crying outside a police station and demanding justice. “Please give me justice... please give me justice,” she is heard saying. “First, he molested me and now he has shot my father. He had come to our village. There were six-seven people. My father had no enmity against anyone. His name is Gaurav Sharma.”
Hathras has been in news since September, when four upper-caste men raped and brutally assaulted a Dalit woman. She died of her injuries a fortnight later in New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. The woman had suffered suffered multiple fractures, a spinal injury and a deep cut in her tongue. On September 30, the police hurriedly cremated the body of the victim around 3 am. The woman’s parents alleged that the police did not allow them to be present at the cremation site or even have a look at the body before the final rites.
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”.