A 19-year-old Dalit woman from Uttar Pradesh succumbed to injuries at a hospital in New Delhi after she was allegedly gangraped by four upper caste men in Hathras district on September 14.
Security has been beefed up outside the Safdarjung Hospital where the Congress and Bhim Army activists are staging a protest over the gang-rape of the woman. Meanwhile, members of the Delhi Mahila Congress also staged a protest at Vijay Chowk demanding justice for the victim. Congress Rajya Sabha member P L Punia and former MP Udit Raj also joined the protest which was led by Delhi Mahila Congress president Amrita Dhawan.
The victim was initially admitted to a district hospital 15 days ago with her tongue cut off and spinal cord severely injured, among other serious injuries. She was later shifted to Aligarh hospital for treatment, before moving to Safdarjung Hospital in the national capital. The police said the victim had been dragged into a field and gangraped. She had also been strangled with her dupatta.
Four upper caste men of the woman’s village in Hathras district, who were charged with gangrape and attempt to murder, apart from charges under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, have been arrested.
They were arrested based on a statement provided by the victim on September 23, when she briefly regained consciousness. She had accused three men – Sandeep, his uncle Ravi (35) and their friend Luv Kush, of committing the crime.
The victim’s mother, who had gone with her to a field nearby to cut grass for their cows before the incident took place, had told The Indian Express, “I was sitting 100 metres from her. I could have saved her. I wish I wasn’t hard of hearing.”
The family alleged the main accused, Sandeep, and his family had “always harassed Dalits in their area”. Nearly two decades ago, Sandeep’s grandfather had been booked under the SC/ST Act and served three months in prison for allegedly thrashing the victim’s grandfather over a petty issue.
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The victim’s brother said the incident of 19 years ago had left rancour between the families, “but nothing ever happened”. “They are upper castes and have always called us names. We ignore them. Sandeep is an alcoholic who harasses women, but nobody ever files a complaint,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Hathras District Magistrate, Praveen Kumar said Tuesday the family would be provided Rs 10 lakh as aid.
The National Commission for Women (NCW) assured all possible assistance to the victim’s family. NCW Chairperson Rekha Sharma said, “An NCW member is going to meet the brother of the victim and we will help the family in whatever way we can.”
Hitting out at the BJP, the Congress questioned the “silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and women leaders of his party, and alleged Uttar Pradesh under the Yogi Adityanath government has become the “crime capital” of the country.
Reacting to the death of the woman, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra targeted the state government for the deterioration of law and order. “Law and order in Uttar Pradesh has deteriorated to a great extent. There is no semblance of safety for women. The criminals are committing crimes in the open,” she said.
Tagging Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, she added, “You are responsible for the safety of women.” She demanded the accused be punished severely.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the incident “shameful” for the country. “The death of the Hathras victim is shameful for the entire society, the country, and for all governments. It is sad that so many daughters are being sexually assaulted and we have not been able to protect them. The guilty must be hanged at the earliest,” he said.
Condoling the death of the victim, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said “no hope” is left from the “insensitive government”. “A dalit daughter, who was victim of gangrape and brutality ultimately died. I condole her death. No hope is left with present insensitive government,” Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi.
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