More than 48 hours after she died from burns sustained in an attack by five men including her alleged assaulters, the Unnao rape victim was buried in a farm owned by her family on Sunday afternoon, next to where her grandparents lie buried.
While the 23-year-old’s body reached her village in Unnao on Saturday night from Delhi, the burial was delayed as the family waited for the victim’s elder sister to arrive from Pune, and demanded that Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath meet them. They eventually went ahead with the last rites after the district administration promised an audience with Adityanath soon, and to meet their other demands.
The funeral procession included around 200 locals, almost double that number of police personnel, minister in-charge of Unnao Kamal Rani Varun, Uttar Pradesh Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, and a Samajwadi Party delegation headed by party MLC Suneel Singh Sajan.
The 23-year-old, who had received 90 per cent burns, had been taken for treatment to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital, where she died.
Police were deployed in the village in large numbers following a scuffle between district officials and SP and Congress supporters. Bighapur Circle Officer Anjani Kumar Rai said personnel from five districts were present, along with six SHOs and their teams. Several PAC companies and fire tenders have also been deployed in the village.
On Sunday, Unnao SP Vikrant Veer suspended seven officials of Bihar Police Station, including one inspector, over “negligence” in the case and failure to check crime.
Lucknow Divisional Commissioner Mukesh Meshram said the victim’s family would continue to get police security.
The family has expressed concern over their safety, pointing out that they are the only blacksmith family in the surrounding five villages and most of the locals are loyal to the pradhan. Rape accused Shubham Trivedi is the son of pradhan Savitri Devi, while his father Hari Shankar Trivedi is among the five arrested.
“We rarely attend any function or gathering in the village. We could not turn to anybody when the accused and their family members threatened us and we are alone now,” said the victim’s sister-in law, adding that the big crowd who had come for the burial was misleading. “Most of them are here out of curiosity. They already despise us and now it will be worse.”
Listing the government measures, Meshram said a fast-track court had been set up to handle the case, the family had received a cheque of Rs 25 lakh and a member would soon be provided a government job, while their application for a house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana was being processed on priority. All police stations in the district have been told to crack down on women-related crimes and hold night patrolling.
With the Samajwadi Party Sunday saying the accused might go free as they are related to the pradhan and had links with the BJP, Minister Swami Prasad Maurya accused the Opposition of doing politics over the case. “Our party will never save a criminal. People know that without a demand from the victim’s family, the Chief Minister decided to send the case to a fast-track court. The victim was airlifted to Delhi without any demand from the family. This shows how serious we are.”
He denied that the pradhan’s family was close to local MLA Hriday Narayan Dixit. About why Dixit was not present at the funeral on Sunday, Maurya said he was unwell.
On the demand by the accused that the probe be handed over to the CBI, the minister said such demands could only be raised by the victim’s side.
Around 500 metres from the house of the victim, the pradhan’s house wore a deserted look. The family refused to talk to anyone, saying police had arrested the five under pressure of the media and for political gains. Savitri Devi said that with the victim’s family demanding a “Hyderabad-like encounter”, she feared for the safety of her son and husband.