THE National Commission for Women (NCW) has said it would look into the tweet by BJP IT head Amit Malviya sharing a video of the 19-year-old Hathras Dalit woman who died after she was brutally assaulted and allegedly gangraped. Asked about the tweet, NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma told The Sunday Express: “If she is a rape victim, then the incident of tweeting the video is really very unfortunate and is also absolutely illegal.”
Under Indian Penal Code provisions, anyone who reveals the identity of a person who is a victim of sexual assault or suspected to be one can be imprisoned for up to two years.
Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh State Commission for Women Vimla Batham also told The Sunday Express that she had not seen the video, but if it disclosed the woman’s identity, it was “definitely objectionable” and the commission would take cognizance and serve Malviya a notice.
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The BJP leader tweeted the 48-second video on Friday, writing, “Hathras victim’s interaction with a reporter outside AMU where she claimed there was an attempt to strangulate her neck. None of it is to take away from the atrocity of the crime but unfair to colour it and demean the gravity of one heinous crime against another…”
In the video, the woman can be seen lying on the ground, her face clearly visible. Till late Saturday night, the video was still up on Malviya’s Twitter account.
Malviya did not respond to calls and messages. In another tweet late on Friday, he said, “Why are some people hell bent on giving Hathras crime, colour of a sexual assault, when neither the victim nor her mother’s initial statements and not a single report by various medical agencies indicate a rape? Is a physical assault leading to her death any less of a crime?”
Malviya also shared a tweet by the national in-charge of BJP Mahila Morcha social media, Priti Gandhi, saying, ” Can you elaborate which law is violated if video of the victim is posted?? Not one report suggests that she was sexually assaulted. It is only a fiction of Lutyen media’s imagination. Are we governed by rule of law or the hallucinations of a few??!!”
The UP Police has said forensic tests on the woman didn’t show evidence of rape. In a statement recorded before a magistrate on September 22, after she had regained consciousness, the 19-year-old, however, had said she had been raped during the assault on September 14.
Section 228A of the IPC states that “whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity of any person against whom an [offence under sections 376, 376A, 376B, 376C, 376D or 376E] is alleged or found to have been committed shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine”.
In the Hathras case, the FIR has been filed under Sections 302 (murder), 376D (rape) and the SC/ST Act.
The NCW Chairperson said, “Courts have said over and over again that a rape victim’s identity cannot be revealed in any which way. When we send statements, we are also very careful to never reveal the identity of a rape victim. The UP Police had issued a statement saying that she was not a victim of rape. Nevertheless there seems to be some confusion. I will be speaking with Amit Malviya as well as the UP Police personally on the matter. If it turns out that she was a rape victim, then the NCW will take the issue forward to its logical end.”
The State Commission for Women’s Batham said, “I have not seen the video and have no information about that. If the video has a photo of the victim or if her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC (before a magistrate) is mentioned, that it is objectionable. If these things are there then it is definitely objectionable. I can only say that her identity should not be disclosed. I will look at the video and take cognizance of the matter. We will serve a notice in that case.”
DGP Hitesh Chandra Awasthy said he had not seen the video and hence could not comment. Additional Chief Secretary, Home, Awanish Kumar Awasthi said, “I cannot comment on it at this point.”
The Hathras police spokesperson said: “We have not received any complaint about the tweet. We will look into the matter.”
with inputs by Jignasa Sinha
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