On Wednesday night, when images streamed in on social media and news channels, of a sobbing mother in Hathras being denied her young daughter’s body, followed by the images of police personnel, deployed in full force, burning this young girl’s remains, without any right in law, in a lonely field outside the village, “it was an injustice that was morally and legally too much to bear,” according to Nandita Rao and Iti Pandey, both lawyers practising at the Delhi High Court.
“It was a reminder of a time when, in this country, a person relegated by oppressors through the unscientific and inhuman caste system, as an untouchable could be subjected worse than animals are — with social and legal impunity,” they state in their opinion piece in The Indian Express.
A young woman, only 19 years old, hailing from the Valmiki community, was denied the promise of the Constitution of India of equality before the law and equal protection of the law, in both life and death. The sequence of events that saw the unforgivable forced burning of the body of the young woman in Hathras is as horrifying as the end that she met.
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“As if it wasn’t bad enough that the entire investigation of the dastardly violence against this young Dalit woman had been compromised, and her health and medical condition had been neglected, the actions of the UP police officials after she passed away seem unfathomable,” they state.
As citizens of India, when we gave ourselves our Constitution, we cast upon our judiciary the duty to protect our fundamental rights against any encroachment from the executive, irrespective of the religion we espoused or the caste forced upon us.
“And today, as we stand shaken and humiliated by the brazen inhumanity perpetrated on the most vulnerable of Indians in complete violation of the rule of law, we hope that our judiciary will exercise its immense constitutional power to lead and supervise a free, fair and speedy investigation into the heinous allegation of brutal rape and the completely illegal forced cremation and illegal detention by the UP police,” they conclude.
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