A DAY after the UP government said it would hand over the probe into the alleged gangrape and death of the 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras to the CBI, the victim’s village witnessed a flurry of visits and protests, including a meeting called by former BJP Hathras MLA Rajveer Singh Pehelwan in support of the four upper-caste men arrested in the case.
Over 500 people attended the meeting held on the premises of a guest house where Pehelwan was staying on the
outskirts of the village. They raised slogans in support of the accused and demanded “justice” for them.
Pehelwan said the meeting was held to “welcome” the decision to hold a CBI inquiry in the case and narco tests of all involved, including the accused, the victim’s family and police officers.
“We held a meeting of all castes today where it was discussed that it was a good decision by the government to call for a CBI enquiry and a narco test. If the family of the victim has nothing to hide, they should not be afraid of it. Strict action should also be taken against those who filed a wrong complaint,” said Pehelwan, who was elected once from Hathras in 1993, and has since been involved in the party’s activities in the region.
Pehelwan claimed that the accused — Sandeep (20), Ravi (35), Luv Kush (23) and Ramu (26) — were being framed. Asked about the participation of Dalits in the meeting, he said, “No one representing the family of the victim was part of the meeting.”
Another, smaller, protest was held in support of the accused outside the village amidst heavy police presence.
The village was also visited by Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, RLD leader Jayant Choudhary and the new Superintendent of Police Vineet Jaiswal. Azad claimed later that he had wanted to take the victim’s family away from the village, on their request, but was stopped by the administration.
Meanwhile, members of the Samajwadi Party, and RLD led by Choudhary, were lathicharged by police as they tried to enter the village.
Chandrashekhar reached the village Sunday afternoon and demanded security for the family of the victim. His motorcade was briefly halted by UP Police before he reached Hathras, but he was later allowed to meet the family.
“The family is not safe in the village. When (actor) Kangana Ranaut can get Y security, why can’t this family? Mahapanchayats are being held every 2 km in favour of the accused. There is stone-pelting happening,” he said.
Chandrashekhar described the government’s move to hand over the investigation to the CBI as a “smoke screen”. “They use the CBI when they have to suppress opposition. This case should be investigated by retired judges of the Supreme Court. Especially, if the judges represent our community,” he said.
Describing the victim’s family as his own, Chandrashekhar tweeted Sunday evening: “I have just left after meeting my family. I am stunned. My sister’s parents just asked me to take them away from the village. My family is being threatened, I want to take them but the administration has stopped us. We will file an appeal in court tomorrow.”
Around 4 pm, RLD leader Choudhary arrived to meet the family along with party workers. Initially, a scuffle broke out as police tried to push the workers behind the barricades. Soon, the situation escalated as the police wielded lathis against Choudhary and his party workers.
“If you have the right to beat us, I have the right to be with my people. Beat us as much as you want, our resolve will not be broken”, Choudhary said in a tweet.
Earlier, newly appointed SP Vineet Jaiswal visited the crime spot where the woman was allegedly gangraped on September 14. Also, a team of SIT officials continued with their questioning of the family members for an official report that has to be submitted this week.
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