In the din of night around 3 am on Wednesday, 30th Sept, 2020, 'Hathras Ki Nirbhaya' was cremated, put to rest by Uttar Pradesh Police. Not a single family member was allowed to be present at the cremation site, none was allowed to perform the last rites. The family of the deceased 19-year-old girl was allegedly locked in their home by the district administration to prevent them from participating in the cremation of their beloved family member.
Relatives, neighbours, villagers were prevented from coming anywhere near the creation site and above all the father of haters Nirbhaya was threatened by the District Magistrate, in front of relatives and village elders.
When the devious & heinous act of UP police was reported, far and wide, hapless state administration swung into action and the Prime Minister placed a call to the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Immediately the CM announced a 3 member Special Investigation Team (SIT), spoke to the father of the deceased and announced a compensation of Rs 25 lakh.
Even before the CM had assuaged the victim's father, UP Police went in an overdrive to prove that Nirbhaya of Hathras was neither brutalised by her assailants, nor raped. Her backbone was not ripped apart by the 4 arrested animals, she was only strangulated. Yes, you are reading it quite right - UP Police Chief declared basis post-mortem report that Hathras Nirbhaya was NOT raped. Her private parts were not mutilated, her tongue not cut, her backbone was not broken - just that she was strangulated and during this assault, her cervical bone broke - that very few injury markers were noticed on her body. So, there is case of attempted murder against the 4 accused held by the police. Therefore, at best they can be tried for attempted assault, amounting to murder. No case for death penalty, as envisaged under law passed in 2012 after Nirbhaya’s death in Delhi.
So, there is no case of political unrest. What Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi therefore attempted, was nothing more than a political stunt. An attempt to soar up their sagging political fortunes. And if you were to look at social media posts and a number of TV study debates, this point is being well hammered by the tweeterati and eminent TV hosts.
The alleged call for justice for Hathras Ki Nirbhaya has been lost in this din and what remains in the lime light is how Rahul Gandhi faked his own fall on the Yamuna Expressway. Really, is this what we Indians care about. Or is the question a lot more serious. Aren't we supposed to discuss what a 19-year-old girl suffered, how she was tortured to death, her gang rape. And why even after 8 years and a change of government at the Centre and in Uttar Pradesh, girls / women are raped with impunity in our country.
Now lets rewind the entire case.
On 14 Sept, 2020, Hathras Ki Nirbhaya, along with her mother and brother went in the morning to collect fodder. When a decent quality of fodder had been collected, the brother fell back to reach the collected fodder pile, back home. In the mean time the mother and 19-year-old girl got separated while they started collecting fodder in different locations. Suddenly the mother realised, that her daughter was missing and she raised an alarm. When the brother and mother finally found the 19-year-old, she was bleeding badly, had no cloths on her body, her neck bone had ruptured, she was near unconscious.
This is the statement of the girl’s mother. While a case of attempted assault was registered, basis complain by brother of Hathras Nirbhaya, the dying girl was sent to Aligarh Hospital for treatment.
As the 19-year-old slipped closer to her death, her mother revealed around 20th Sept, that the 19-year-old had been gang-raped by all the accused.
This fact was brought to the doctor’s notice. On 22nd Sept, the police recorded the girl's statement, where she claimed that she was gang-raped.
Hathras Ki Nirbhaya named all the accused in her statement. Accordingly fresh charges were imposed on all 4 accused who till now had been arrested by the UP Police.
With her condition worsening, the victim was shifted to Safdarjang Hospital, Delhi. And from here on, politics took over.
Priyanka Gandhi and Congress party picked up the issue. So do, Samajwadi Party and Bhim Sena. The 19-year-old was a Dalit and all the 4 accused, upper caste Rajputs. A lethal cocktail of caste conflict, politicisation of caste equation and politics of opportunism gains prominence.
While political activists protested outside Safdarjang Hospital, it was upon Hathras Nirbhaya's death, that we saw a massive surge of demonstrations.
Delhi police made several announcement to disperse the gather crowd of political and human rights activists. Till now, the alleged brutal gang rape and subsequent death had attracted substantial negative media attention.
From here on, it was a panic driven UP government which took centre stage, made blunders mistakes of brushing the matter under the carpet and a mismanaged political response which tarnished the Yogi government like never before.
This blot on CM Yogi Adityanath's, so called effective administration, drove the UP state administration in to a serial, which has not been seen since the UPA days. It is this blot which is driving the Yogi administration into a black hole of illogical decisions. To cover up these series of administrative lapses, the UP government did the most unexpected - cremate the 19-year-old in the baseness of her family members, without their consent.
Once created, the body can't be exhumed and never can the truth of 14th Sept be brought to light except what is registered in the police case and mentioned in the post often report. We are quite aware of the suspicious that can be raised from ill-devised post mortem reports of Sushant Singh Rajput or Aarushi Talwar. Once managed and evidence destroyed, the dead can’t come back to tell the truth.
It is this truth, which has forced the hands of trigger happy UP Police to cremate a 19-year-old girl in the din of the night. A police force which is proud to have killed over a thousand criminals in encounters, where police car also overturn to effectively encounter a dreaded criminal, couldn't but sully its hands with the ashes of a dead girl. It is the truth of a gang-rape, truth of a tattered soul and truth of incompetent governance, that scares the Yogi administration.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions do not reflect the views of India TV )