Hathras gangrape: UP Police lathicharge RLD's Jayant Chaudhary; Bhim Army chief seeks 'Y' security for victim's kin

Meanwhile, hundreds of people of the so-called 'Upper Castes', including the family of one of the accused, gathered outside the homeof former BJP MLA Rajveer Singh Pehelwan, and claimed that the four arrested have been wrongly accused

FP Staff October 05, 2020 00:04:59 IST
Hathras gangrape: UP Police lathicharge RLD's Jayant Chaudhary; Bhim Army chief seeks 'Y' security for victim's kin

Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad marched towards Hathras victim's village. News18

The political storm over the Hathras gangrape intensified on Sunday with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary being lathi-charged on the outskirts of the victim's village and the accused being defended at a meeting outside the home of a former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA.

Meanwhile, as per NDTV, Bhim Army founder Chandra Shekhar Azad was also stopped twice on his way to visit the family of the teenager who was raped and assaulted allegedly by four men from her village on 14 September and later succumbed to her injuries on 29 September.

After being stopped for the first time, the Bhim Army chief marched for about five kilometres. Upon entering Hathras, Azad was stopped again and was told that not all the people accompanying him could go along.

After he managed to meet the victim's family, Azad demanded that Y-category security be given to them and a probe monitored by the Supreme Court be initiated into the gangrape.

"When Kangana Ranaut can be given Y-plus security, meetings are being held to back the accused... I demand that the government arranges Y-Plus category security for the victim's family. We have all seen that the CBI follows the government's orders," he said.

"Under the present leadership, the CBI is being used only to scare people. We want a probe monitored by a retired Supreme Court judge," he added.

On Saturday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said he had recommended a CBI probe into the gangrape and assured that the strictest punishment will be handed out to those found guilty.

SP delegation stopped

A delegation of the SP too claimed on Sunday that it had been stopped briefly at a toll plaza near Agra by police at the behest of the government.

"This forcible stoppage is a murder of democracy.... Samajwadi(s) will stand with the aggrieved family in their fight for justice," the party tweeted in Hindi.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav had on Saturday set up an 11-member fact-finding team headed by the party's state unit chief Naresh Uttam Patel to visit the woman's village on Sunday and meet her family members.

After the delegation met the family, the party said in another tweet in Hindi: "A 'nyay yuddh' (struggle for justice) is going on to deliver justice to the deceased daughter of Hathras by the Samajwadis. On the directives of the national president, the SP delegation met the aggrieved family, expressed its solidarity, and assured all possible help. SP supports all the demands of the aggrieved family."

RLD leader baton charged

Meanwhile, the RLD in a press statement, alleged that its vice-president Jayant Chaudhary and party workers were lathi-charged by police when they were on their way to meet the victim's family.

Condemning the police action, RLD's UP unit president Masood Ahmed said, "The BJP is trying to suppress the voice of the Opposition." RLD members also staged protests and blocked roads in various parts of Muzaffarnagar district.

Hathras SDM Prem Prakash Meena however accused the party workers of breaking barricades and pelting stones, injuring one of the police personnel. He also accused them of misbehaving with women police personnel.

As per news agency ANI, Chaudhary later met the victim's family. Rashtiya Lok Dal (RLD) leader Jayant Chaudhary meets family members of the alleged gangrape victim in #Hathras. pic.twitter.com/XU9gsLdEG1 — ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) October 4, 2020

According to a report in Hindustan Times it was Samajwadi Party workers who had jumped the barricades while waiting for its delegation to come out of the village. Chaudhary and his supporters had reached the spot amid the melee.

The report states that stone-pelting was carried out by unidentified persons and the police resorted to lathi-charge while Chaudhary was interacting with a reporter. The RLD workers rushed to protect Chaudhary as the police continued to baton charge.

The visit of Azad, the SP delegation and the RLD workers comes a day after Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met the family of the Dalit teenager and declared that they would fight to ensure justice.

On Sunday, Priyanka tweeted: "According to the aggrieved family, the worst treatment meted out to them was by the district magistrate. Who is trying to save him? He should be immediately suspended, and his role in the entire matter should be probed. When the family is demanding a judicial probe, then why is noise over CBI probe and SIT probe is going on."

"If the UP government has even slightly woken up from its slumber, it should listen to the point of view of the family," she said in another tweet.

As per a Hindustan Times report, the family members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman said they were against a CBI probe, and sought a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry instead.

“We do not require a CBI probe, but want the proceedings to take place in a fast-track court under the supervision of a Supreme Court judge,” the report quotes the victim's brother as saying.

Earlier, Opposition party leaders including the Gandhis and TMC's Derek O'Brien had been stopped from going to the village in Hathras. On Thursday, a Congress convoy had been stopped and the Gandhis had been briefly detained before being escorted back to Delhi. On Friday, a TMC delegation was allegedly manhandled and pushed by policemen outside the girl's village.

The entry of media persons, too, was restricted to avoid " any meddling in the investigation.  The sub-divisional magistrate of the region had told ANI the restrictions were put in place as a Special Investigation Team was trying to collect statements and evidence in the village.

Editors Guild issues statement

The Editors Guild of India on Sunday released a statement condemning the blockade by the law enforcement agencies and demanded that the government create an environment in Hathras which does not obstruct journalists in any way.

The Guild also referred to the alleged phone-tapping of journalists covering the case and asserted that this, along with stopping them from going to the village, undermines and obstructs the functioning of the media. The statement noted that this was part of the growing trend of attacks on media professionals in many states and demanded corrective action.

As per the Hindustan Times report, the SIT constituted by the state government continued its probe on Sunday and recorded the statements of the woman’s family members.

“We are open to anyone who wants to present himself before SIT and get his or her statement (recorded),” said senior IPS officer Bhagwan Swaroop who heads the three-member SIT.

Accused defended at meet

Meanwhile, hundreds of people belonging to the so-called "upper castes", including the family of one of the accused, gathered outside the house of former BJP MLA Rajveer Singh Pehelwan, and claimed that the four arrested have been wrongly accused.

According to news agency PTI, one of the organisers of Sunday's meeting and Pehalvan’s son Manveer Singh, however, denied that the gathering comprised members from the so-called upper castes and said they were from “different sections of society”.

Rajveer told PTI that a scenario was being created to blame the government and instead demanded that an FIR be registered against the complainants.

“The entire scenario has been created to blame the government. The accused persons are in favour of any type of inquiry. But the victims are changing their stand every now and then. They do not want a narco test or a CBI probe. Now they want other kinds of inquiries,” he claimed.

"Our demand is that a case should be filed against those people who had filed the case in the first instance," he said.

Rajveer also welcomed the CBI probe recommended by the Adityanath government, asserting that they had " full faith in the investigation."

Singh also said various legal options were being explored to defend the accused in the case. He asserted that the arrest of some of the accused persons from their homes was proof of their innocence.

“Had they been guilty, they would have run away from their homes. Why would they be present in their homes,” he asked.

As per a Quint report, members of the Bajrang Dal, RSS,  Karni Sena, Rashtriya Savarna Sangathan, Kshatriya Mahasabha are among those who have been rallying in favour of the accused

As per an NDTV report, a gathering of so-called upper caste men was also held on Friday near the village where the teen lived. Large gatherings remain banned in the district amid public outrage over the brutality.

The report quoted Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena as saying that he was not aware of Sunday's meeting. "There is no pressure on the victim's family. Political leaders can meet the family in groups of five," he added. The report noted that permission was not required as the gathering was held at a private residence.

However, one of the men present at the meeting said the police had been informed about the meeting.

As per PTI, heavy police deployment was visible in the vicinity of the former BJP MLA’s house which is located around 8 to 9 kilometres from the victim’s village.

The demand for justice to the accused, who belong to the dominant Thakur community and have been arrested, comes days after the Uttar Pradesh Police's claim that the 19-year-old victim was not raped, based on the forensic report which said no semen was found, triggering outrage online and disbelief among activists.

The ADG (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar had also claimed that the case was being stoked to stir up caste-based tensions.

MLC report notes signs of use force

As per several media reports, the provisional opinion by a doctor Department of Forensic Medicine of the Aligarh Muslim University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital (JNMCH)  in a medico-legal certificate (MLC) from 22 September noted that there were ‘signs of use of force.’

"However, opinion regarding penetration and intercourse is subject to pending availability of FSL reports," the doctor had said.

“As alleged by the informant, the survivor was sexually assaulted by four known persons of the same village when she was doing some work in the fields of village Bulgarhi on 14 September 2020 at 9 am. There is a history of loss of consciousness during the incident," The Quint quotes the report as saying.

As per a report in The Times of India, all sections marked for the presence of semen had “do not know” written against them. Also,a UV exam was not conudtced “because the body (had been) wiped several times.”

Evidence on the outside of the body and on materials like clothing can be collected even after 96 hours, the report notes. However, the girl's clothing had been changed at the time of admission, it said, adding that “clothes worn at the time of incidence (sic) are collected and sealed".

As per the media reports, findings of the preliminary MLC stand in contrast to the final report prepared by the JNMCH on Saturday, which said there were no signs suggestive of vaginal/ anal intercourse but found evidence of physical assault.

As per The Hindu, this report is based on the Forensic Science Laboratory report quoted by the ADG while claiming that rape had not taken place.

However, Hamza Malik, president of AMU’s Resident Doctors’ Association told The Hindu that the final opinion was based on the FSL report and denied intercourse, not rape.

He also observed that the forensic examination had been conducted on 22 September, eight days after the gangrape. “The forensic examination was conducted on 22 September, eight days after the incident. In cases of rape, according to government guidelines, the forensic samples should be collected within 72 hours of the incident. Sperms can’t survive after more than 90 hours,” he said.

The referral slip of the Hathras hospital, where the girl was initially taken,  prepared on 14 September said no MLC was conducted before referring her to JNMCH as the girl was in a serious condition.

According to The Times of India, the delay can partly be attributed to the fact that initially only attempt to murder charges had been filed and the rape charges were added later to the FIR, after the victim regained consciousness and hence the MLC was conducted later.

The Hindu report states that the family members said the mother had remained silent on that count to "protect the honour" of the girl.

Malik also said that  if the observations in medico-legal case (MLC) report are read with certain findings in the autopsy report in the light of the amended rape law, the picture would be different.

“Besides, how could you discount her statement before the magistrate which would be treated as the dying declaration of the victim and is crucial in such cases. Insensitive cases, nobody should reach a conclusion on half-truths," he said.

Protests continue 

Meanwhile, in Srinagar, trade unions affiliated with the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) staged a demonstration near the press enclave. Carrying placards and banners, the protesters raised slogans against the perpetrators of the heinous crime and demanded the resignation of Yogi Adityanath, a CITU spokesperson said.

The protesters also called for the arrest of police personnel who initially refused to file an FIR and against those responsible for the cruel act of forcible cremation. They said the culprits responsible for the rape and murder should be hanged.

"This barbaric caste-based rape crime is reflective of the utter lawlessness in UP under the BJP government and the patronage given to casteist and reactionary forces leading to a big increase in crimes against Dalits and women. The recent NCRB report confirms this," the spokesperson said.

He also termed the burial of the gang-rape victim without her family's consent as a blatant denial of justice.

The teenager died of her grievous injuries a fortnight after the rape in a hospital in Delhi on Tuesday. She was cremated in the dead of the night near her home on Wednesday. Her family alleged they were forced by the local police to hurriedly conduct her last rites. Local police officers, however, had said the cremation was carried out "as per the wishes of the family".

As per the Hindustan Times report, safai karmacharis in Agra too continued their agitation. On Saturday, the sanitation workers had pelted the municipal corporation’s garbage removal vehicles with stones.

Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati expressed concern over allegations of Hathras district magistrate threatening the family of the Dalit woman who died after being allegedly gang-raped.

In a tweet in Hindi, Mayawati said, "There have been serious allegations of the Hathras DM threatening the family of the victim. Despite this, the UP Government is maintaining silence, which is sad and extremely worrying."

"The government has agreed for a CBI probe but with the DM staying there (Hathras), how can the matter be impartially probed? People are feeling apprehensive," she said.

Earlier, a woman member of the family had claimed they were being pressured by the district magistrate and feared "these people now won't let us live here", according to a purported video. Another video had also showed the DM purportedly meeting the family at their home, where he allegedly asked the woman’s father to “reconsider” if he wants to stick with the statement or change it.

With inputs from agencies

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