UP CM decries 'politicisation' of Hathras gangrape, gives SIT 10 more days to file report; Kerala journalist charged with sedition
Several Dalit leaders, meanwhile, have expressed concern over the course of investigation based on media reports and have demanded a court-monitored probe.
The claims and counterclaims in the Hathras gangrape and murder case has turned murkier with the Yogi Adityantah-led Uttar Pradesh government decrying 'politicisation' of the case while the Opposition continued to lambast the state for its actions.
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday accused the Opposition of tryign to disturb the social harmony while doing politics over the "dead bodies of the poor".
Opposition Congress, on the other hand, held protests in various states including Gujarat, Arunachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Several Dalit leaders, meanwhile, Wednesday expressed concern over the course of investigation based on media reports and have demanded a court-monitored probe.
Yogi slams Opposition for adding caste-religion angle to case
Speaking at a virtual meeting with BJP office-bearers, Adityanath said, "The faces of those doing politics on the dead bodies of the poor are getting exposed and the government will identify each one of them and deal with them with a heavy hand as per the law of the land."
"These are the ones for whom the poor have just been a vote bank and poverty alleviation is just another rhetorical political slogan with no heart for their uplift," the chief minister said.
He said for the opposition, politics is just a business and they can stoop to any low to run their business.
"They (opposition) view everything through the prism of caste, religion and regionalism. These disruptive elements may resort to any misdeed and disintegrate the social structure in order to keep their vote banks intact.
"We should assure people that we will not allow their evil designs to succeed," Adityanath added.
Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan charged with sedition
The UP chief minister's statement came even as the Uttar Pradesh police booked four persons Siddique Kappan, a journalist of Malapuram in Kerala, on sedition and other charges, two days after they were held while on their way to meet the victim's family in Hathras.
Charges under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the IT Act have also been filed against the four who were later remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by a Mathura court, officials said.
According to PTI, the police also claimed to have discovered that the accused "were going to Hathras with an intention to breach the peace as part of a conspiracy".
The three other accused have been identified as Atiq-ur-Rehman of Muzaffarnagar, Masood Ahmad of Bahraich and Alam of Rampur. The FIR claimed that police recovered pamphlets "Justice for Hathras victim", six mobiles and a laptop from them.
The police had earlier said that the four, inlcuding as Kappan, have links with the Popular Front of India and its affiliates.
Earlier, the Kerala Union of Working Journalists (KUWJ) had sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking Kappan's release and also filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court.
The Press Association and the Indian Women Press Corps on Wednesday described the journalist's arrest as the Uttar Pradesh government's attempt to "silence" the media and demanded his immediate release.
Dalit activists seek judicial probe into Hathras case
Activists of the Dalita Sangharsha Samithi (DSS) and various like-minded organisations demanded a judicial probe into the gangrape-murder case at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.
The protestors staged the demonstration in front of the mini-Vidhana Saudha in Bengaluru seeking the enquiry by a Supreme Court judge anda compensation of Rs one crore to the family of the victim.
Congress leader PV Mohan, DYFI state president Muneer Katipalla and DSS leader Devadas took part in the protest.
Congress stages protests in various states
The Congress party held protests in Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Arunachal Pradesh demanding justice for the Hathras gangrape victim.
Several Congress and MLAs leaders were detained in Gujarat before they could head to the protest venue. In Arunachal Pradesh, the party held a demonstration in Itanagar.
However, in Hathras, the Uttar Pradesh police has booked Shyoraj Jivan Valmiki, a local Congress leader from Dalit community accusing him of "hate mongering and disturbing peace in the region" based on some videos doing rounds on the social media.
According to a report in The New Indian Express, in the purported videos Jivan admitted that Congress used the Hathras case for furthering its politics as it had been devoid of issues for a long time.
A report in Times of India quoted Valmiki as threatening to "chop off hands" of anyone who "dared to look at a Dalit daughter".
SIT gets more time to submit report
Meanwhile, the UP government has given an additional 10 days to the three-member SIT investigating the gangrape and murder of the Dalit girl as the "probe is not complete", a senior official said Wednesday.
The special investigation team, constituted on 30 September and led by Home Secretary Bhagwan Swarup, was initially given seven days to submit its report.
But the UP government later sought a CBI probe into the case and the criminal conspiracy to spread caste conflict it has suspected.
On Tuesday, it had told the Supreme Court it wanted an apex court-monitored CBI inquiry into the incident to ensure "no vested interests will be able to create fake, false narrative with oblique motives".
The Yogi Adityanath government is facing severe criticism for its handling of the case, particularly after the local police burnt the gangrape victim's body at the dead of night without the family's approval.
However, officials said the cremation was done "as per the wishes of the family".
The state government has claimed that some people were trying to foment caste tensions in the aftermath of the alleged rape of the Dalit girl by four "upper caste" men on 14 September.
Quoting an forensic report, the police has also denied the rape charge.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in response to a PIL, the government said there have been "orchestrated efforts to malign the image of the government on social media by attributing baseless comments and building up a distorted narrative on the Hathras case.
The gangrape victim died on 29 September of the grievous injuries she suffered during the assault.
With inputs from PTI
Eight people, including four farmers, were killed in the violence that erupted on October 3
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The UP chief minister emphasized that those found guilty would be punished accordingly, based on evidence. To this extent he said that a special investigation team (SIT) has been constituted and a judicial commission has been formed
Ambassadors of various countries and a special delegation from Sri Lanka will participate in the ceremony