THE FAMILY members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died after being assaulted and allegedly gangraped by four upper-caste men in Hathras, told the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday that the district administration carried out her cremation “against their wishes”.
“Her family told the court that the cremation was done by the Hathras district administration against their wishes,” said senior advocate Jaideep Narain Mathur, who was appointed amicus curiae in the case.
“In his statement, Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar told the court that they had inputs about a huge law and order problem the next morning, following which they took the decision to carry out the cremation. The District Magistrate denied having sought any direction from Lucknow or got any guidance from Lucknow in the decision regarding the cremation. He told the court that the decision was taken (by officials) locally, including him,” said Mathur.
A PTI report quoted Seema Kushwaha, counsel for the family members, as saying that they wanted the case to be transferred out of the state. “The family wants the case to be transferred to Delhi or Mumbai,” she was quoted as saying. According to the PTI report, she said the family asked for security and also did not want the report of the investigation so far to be made public.
Besides the victim’s parents, her two brothers and sister-in-law were also present in court. All their statements were taken.
The 19-year-old was attacked, allegedly by four upper caste men on September 14, and admitted to a hospital in Aligarh. She regained consciousness on September 22 and recorded a statement before a magistrate, following which sections of rape were added to the FIR. All the four accused have been arrested.
The victim died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on September 29. Her body was taken to Hathras, and a hurried cremation was held a little before 3 am on September 30 – none of her immediate family members were present at the last rites.
Taking suo motu cognizance of the case, especially the hurried cremation, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had directed senior officials of the state government and police to be present at the hearing on October 12. The court had also asked the victim’s family members to be present to give their version.
Besides the victim’s family and the Hathras District Magistrate, Uttar Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Director General of Police H C Awasthy, Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar and Superintendent of Police, Hathras, Vineet Jaiswal were also present in court.
The case is being heard by a Division Bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy. Additional Advocate General V K Shahi, who represented the state authorities, said the next hearing has been fixed for November 2.