For the past five days, an entourage of media and police have been thronging the narrow dirt lane leading to the 19-year-old’s house in Hathras. From the verandah of a house across this road, a few women, all relatives of the accused, peer out every now and then to catch a glimpse of the crowd.
As demands for justice for the 19-year-old grow, and a day after a UP government spokesperson said polygraph and narco tests would be conducted on the accused, the victim’s relatives and even police officers involved in the probe, families of the accused say they want a fair trial.
While three of the accused, Sandeep (20), his uncle Ravi (35), and Ramu (27) are related, the fourth accused, Luv Kush (19), is Sandeep’s friend. All four men are Shikhawat Thakurs whose families have been into agriculture for many generations. The farmers of the village mostly grow paddy and bajra.
Six months ago, Sandeep got a job with a private company in Delhi for whom he had to drive a courier vehicle. His family says that from the Rs 6,000 he earned every month, Sandeep sent some money home to his parents, who worked on 5 bighas of land. They say that he returned home a few days ago after developing a cyst on his foot.
“On the morning of the incident (September 14), Sandeep was lying in the verandah. His parents had come home after giving fodder to the animals. It was a regular day in the village,” says Hariom, 30, Sandeep’s cousin.
The victim’s family has alleged that the 19-year-old was assaulted and gangraped by the four men while she was cutting grass in the fields around 8.30 am. The woman’s mother has said that the accused fled the spot after she raised an alarm.
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A few months ago, Ramu, one of the four accused, had got a job as a daily wage worker at a milk plant 10 km from the village. His family says he would cycle to the plants for two shifts — 7.30 am to 1.30 pm, and 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm.
His family says, Ramu, who has studied till his Class 10, is hard of hearing.
“Ramu was working when the incident occurred. If there is a way to track a person’s location, they will know where he was. He came back home on his cycle around 11.30 am,” says Rajwati, Ramu’s mother.
A few metres away from Sandeep’s home, Ravi’s family says they have told his four children that their father is out on work and that he would return soon. The 35-year-old, a daily-wage labourer, would line up at a chowk 2 km away every day, hoping to get picked up for work. His family claims that on the day of the incident, he had gone to the chowk, looking for work.
Luv Kush took up odd jobs to sustain himself. Sandeep’s family says Luv Kush is not involved in the crime and was helping his mother in a nearby field on the day of the incident.
“Some people say we have connections and that the police are protecting us. We are nobody, how can we influence the police? Ramu and Ravi have probably not been outside of Hathras their entire lives. People say we are from a higher caste… We are just labourers, farmers…”, says Sandeep’s cousin Hariom.
The families say they are now pinning their hopes on the narco test. “If there is a test where you can tell if a person is saying the truth or not, then we want nothing more than that. Let there be a fair trial. Hang them if they are guilty. If they are not, let them live their life,” he adds.
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