The TMC on Friday accused the Uttar Pradesh government of “unleashing a reign of terror” after its four-member delegation was stopped from meeting the Hathras victim’s family.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will, meanwhile, lead a protest march in Kolkata on Saturday against the Hathras case. She is expected to march from Birla Planetarium to the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Mayo Road in the afternoon.
This will be the first time in six months since the Covid-19 induced nationwide lockdown in March that the TMC chief will hit the streets.
Banerjee had on Thursday hit out at the BJP-ruled UP government for cremating the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died after a brutal assault and alleged gangrape in Hathras, with her family’s consent. “Have no words to condemn the barbaric & shameful incident at Hathras involving a young Dalit girl. My deepest condolences to the family. More shameful is the forceful cremation without the family’s presence or consent, exposing those who use slogans & lofty promises for votes,” she had tweeted.
A statement issued by the TMC said the delegation led by the party’s Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’ Brien wanted to meet the family members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman to express its solidarity. The team also included MPs Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Pratima Mondal and Mamata Thakur.
TMC secretary-general Partha Chatterjee criticised the Yogi Adityanath government for “unleashing a reign of terror” in UP.
“Is this a democracy? Our MPs are being heckled and pushed to the ground. How come police officers have this audacity to heckle Parliamentarians? The Uttar Pradesh government has failed to protect a Dalit girl. It is trying to hush up the matter. The UP police are now using force against Opposition leaders,” he said.
Videos shared by the TMC show O’Brien is being pushed to the ground by police a few km before the victim’s house. Senior TMC leader and party MP Sougata Roy said the UP government was trying to hide the truth.
“I strongly condemn the incident. The Yogi Adityanath government is trying to hide the truth. This is the reason why it is stopping the media and Opposition party leaders from meeting the family members. But the UP government cannot stop our movement like this. This incident brings back the memory of the Nirbhaya case,” said Roy.
Senior TMC leader and state minister Subrata Mukherjee said, “There is no administration in UP. When Opposition parties are trying to visit the family members of the victim, the police are used to stop them. It is an example of a barbaric government. Opposition leaders are being attacked at the instruction of the UP chief minister. Anarchy is prevailing in UP.”
TMC’s official Twitter handle said its MPs were staging a dharna around a km away from the victim’s home, after being manhandled and roughed up by police.
The BJP claimed that the TMC was trying to politicise the issue. “Rapes take place in villages in West Bengal, but the TMC government takes no action. No one is punished here. But their leaders visit Assam and UP to stage a drama. People of Bengal will give TMC a befitting reply. People of UP will not vote for TMC,” said West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh.
On Thursday, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and around 150 of their party workers were briefly detained in Greater Noida for alleged violation of prohibitory orders while walking towards Hathras to meet the family. Videos show Rahul fell after a scuffle with police.
The 19-year-old was allegedly raped by four upper-caste men in Hathras on September 14. She was referred to the Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Monday and died the next day.
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