As the CBI submitted its chargesheet in the Hathras case Friday, only the eldest brother of the 19-year-old Dalit woman was present from the family at the Hathras District Court, located not far from their home. Her parents weren’t told a chargesheet was going to be filed.
“We weren’t expecting much from the chargesheet, so we didn’t tell them. We wanted to know first what it would say. My father saw the news on TV and started crying,” said the 28-year-old.
Contradicting the police’s claim that the 19-year-old had not been sexually assaulted, the chargesheet says the four upper caste accused had gangraped the woman on September 14 before leaving her for dead.
Another brother, 20, said: “Since the incident, our neighbours, the villagers and even the District Magistrate (DM) have been against us. They accused me of killing my own sister, called this a case of honour killing… We hope the authorities punish the accused soon.”
The elder brother said they felt relieved. “We had to fight a lot. The administration did not trust us and portrayed that we were lying, but the truth doesn’t remain hidden for long. Today there is some hope… This is our first step on the ladder of justice. It is now up to the courts to deliver final justice. We will wait for the judgment which will prove once and for all the truth in this.”
The teenager’s sister-in-law, who was close to her, said her children missed their aunt. “We want justice for her, and want the DM to resign. It was because of him that we couldn’t cremate her.” The woman was cremated hours after her death, in the early hours of September 30, with no one from her family present and officials making the arrangements. In the government action that followed, several officers were suspended.
The UP government kept its promise of Rs 25 lakh as compensation, but the family says life for them is far from normal, with neighbours blaming them for the “bad name” brought to the village and everyone keeping their distance from them. CRPF personnel continue to be deployed outside their house, albeit in lesser numbers.
One of the brothers said they had got used to the security — and even to the ostracisation now. “The neighbours won’t speak to us because they are upper caste and support the accused. Why should we even expect them to support us? We just want justice for our sister,” he said.
According to the family, officials kept asking them initially whether they wanted to return the compensation, stopping only after they gave in writing that they needed the money for the legal battle.
Denying the family’s claims, the village pradhan said it was they who had stopped mingling with others. “Neither are we taking any sides nor are we trying to stop the investigation… Let the CBI investigate the matter completely… We don’t think it was caste-based violence. The truth will come out soon,” he said.
The elder brother said they expect the “harassment” to continue in “some small ways”. But the CBI chargesheet might prove a turning point. “The role of the local administration has been highlighted now and it is a matter of time before justice takes its course.”
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