CONTRADICTING the Uttar Pradesh Police’s claim that the 19-year-old Dalit woman killed in Hathras allegedly by upper caste men had not been raped, the CBI on Friday filed a chargesheet against the four on charges of gangrape and murder.
The chargesheet was filed in a court in Hathras under IPC Sections 376 (rape), 376 (D) (gangrape), 302 (murder) and relevant Sections of the SC/ST Act, against Sandeep (20), his uncle Ravi (35) and their friends Ramu (26) and Luv Kush (23).
The teenager was assaulted allegedly by the four on September 14, and died a fortnight later at Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi. A post-mortem report attributed her death to cervical spine injury, caused by indirect blunt trauma.
The CBI released a statement saying a chargesheet had been filed against the four accused. “The case was registered by CBI on 11th October 2020 on a request from Uttar Pradesh Govt and further notification from Govt of India.”
Hathras Case | Officials’ role clear, truth can’t be hidden: family
The CBI, which got polygraph and brain mapping tests done of the accused, had submitted an inquiry report to the Allahabad High Court, which had taken suo motu cognizance of the case, on November 26. CBI sources said they submitted the chargesheet after collecting “ample forensic evidence”. “The only charge that has been dropped is of molestation, but that is because the charge of rape and gangrape has been found during forensic investigation. The investigation showed enough evidence to prosecute on the charges of murder, rape and gangrape,” sources said.
“It is now up to the court to deliberate on the charges. A copy of the chargesheet will be provided at the next hearing. We will go through the chargesheet and decide the next course of action,” said Munna Singh, the accused’s lawyer. The four accused have been in judicial custody since their arrest in September, with no bail application filed on their behalf.
In a statement on Friday evening, the state government said it was Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s decision to order a CBI investigation, and that it had told the Supreme Court in an affidavit that it wanted the truth to come out. The statement added, “The accused were arrested (under) relevant Sections after the girl’s statement.”
The 19-year-old was allegedly raped by the four men on September 14 morning while she was out gathering fodder with her mother for the family’s cows. The family said the four dragged her away unnoticed by her mother, who is hard of hearing. A case was registered of attempt to murder and under the SC/ST Act on a complaint by the victim’s brother against Sandeep. On September 22, in a statement recorded at the Aligarh hospital, where she was taken as her condition deteriorated, the woman said she was sexually assaulted and named three others besides Sandeep.
A controversy arose around the late registration of the rape charges, followed by the victim’s hurried cremation in the middle of the night, not attended by any member of her family and organised by the administration. Her family accused authorities of putting pressure on them to conduct her last rites.
Later, as political leaders, including Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi, tried to make their way to the village to meet her family, the Uttar Pradesh authorities cordoned off the area.
With the state government coming under attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened, calling up Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, leading to the setting up of an SIT to probe the matter and suspension of five police officers. The Adityanath government later transferred the probe to the CBI, which registered a case on October 11.
At a press conference in Lucknow a couple of days after the victim’s death, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said the forensic report did not show any evidence of rape. “… no sperm or spermatozoa was found in the viscera sample. The postmortem report states that the cause of death was due to trauma caused by the assault. Despite the statements by officials, some wrong information was circulated in the media,” he said, adding that the initial complaint had only talked of “maar-peet”, with no mention of rape.
Taking suo motu cognizance, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court took exception to the police statement. “We asked Sri Kumar (ADG Kumar) as to whether it was proper for anyone not directly connected with investigation to comment on any evidence relating to the offence alleged, specially if the allegation is of rape, or to draw conclusions based thereon as to whether offence was committed or not, when the investigation was still pending and such person was not part of the investigation… He fairly agreed that it should not happen.”
The court also noted that following the 2013 amendments in law relating to the definition of rape, “mere absence of semen during forensic examination, though a factor for consideration, would not by itself be conclusive as to whether rape had been committed or not, if there are other admissible evidence”.
Attacking the BJP government, the Opposition said the chargesheet showed that no one got anything in Uttar Pradesh without a fight, including justice. Priyanka Gandhi said, “This development raises serious questions on the Adityanath government, UP Police.”