Horrific Hatras Rape And Murder : Even When A ‘Dalit’ is the President of India

In Hathras, Uttar Pradesh (UP) , a 19-year poor dalit girl was brutally gang-raped, tortured and murdered allegedly by four men belonging to the powerful community,  also  high-ups in social rung in the caste-stratified society. It was followed  by  the over-activism on the part of the police-administration under the BJP-led state government to cremate the victim’s  body at dead night keeping her family members locked in their house, despite their begging  to take a last look at her. The bestiality of the crime which took place on 14 September and the allegations of tardy investigations, lax forensics, hurried cremation, dubious statements by the police-administration and coercive actions against protesters and journalists covering the incident have roiled India once again. More suspicious has been the way the crime of gangrape is being shielded by the administration and the powerful BJP leaders and ministers representing the moneyed  upper caste lobby who are also trying to hold the accused as innocent. In fact, rallies are being organized by the BJP satraps and other constituents of the Hindutva group in demand for release of the four men taken into custody. Of late, a theory has been floated from the ruling quarters that  an “international conspiracy” has been hatched with foreign funding to foment caste conflagration in the state with a view to defaming the BJP-led government.

Growing crime against women

This gruesome incident has brought to the fore three criminal aberrations stemming from the decrepit capitalist society in India and exacerbating socio-political oppression of the common toiling masses. Growing crime on women, escalating casteist oppression and rising despotism of the government-administration. The lethal Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012 was just one of  the 24,923 rape cases reported that year. Actual number would have been many times higher as most of such cases go unreported.  And pitiably, the conviction rate is only 27.2 % which itself shows how callous and dysfunctional is the administrative machinery in dealing with the rape criminals. Consequently, crimes against women have risen steadily from 3.22 lakh in 2016 to 4.05 lakh in 2019 notwithstanding the fact that power at the centre and in many states have passed on to the BJP from the Congress. National Crime Research Bureau (NCRB) statistics released just a few days ago tell us that 87 rapes are reported every day in India. 10 dalit women are raped every day, reports NRCB. But that constitutes only 11% of the reported cases meaning women belonging to non-dalit populace are also not spared. UP is now run by a BJP government. A saffron-clad self-styled monk is the chief minister. But even with such a monk at the helm, UP tops the list of rape incidents with a shocking increase of 20%  between 2016 and 2019.Hence, NCRB has correctly marked UP as the most unsafe state for women. The figures mentioned above are based on counting the cases where the victim women dared to speak out. And we know there are umpteen number of unreported cases where the victims do not disclose the incidents fearing social stigma, ostracization as well as retaliatory action by the offenders who mostly bask under the umbrella of the ruling dispensation. The parents and relatives of the victims, instead of fighting for justice, often try to hide the crimes because of that. Irony is that while the girls live in shame, the rapists swagger around freely and taking ‘pride’ in what they have done. With the government-administration more often than not remaining an indulgent onlooker,  these rapists who are  stripped of all human values and essence, thump around with notoriety. In such a milieu, the common unorganized marginalized populace, irrespective of caste or religion or ethnicity, whose daughters, sisters, wives or mothers become easy preys to these wolves, languish in fear and bear with the assault and humiliation silently. That is why, mostly the women including minors and children belonging to the economically distressed and socially discriminated, deprived, persecuted, underprivileged sections are the victims. If the law-keepers are not held accountable to law, it gives a handle to the powerful despots to commit any crime with impunity. And so,  justice cries in the wilderness!

Secondly, objectification of women is another endowment of degraded capitalism where consumerist mindset is incited every moment. Hence male chauvinism which has not vanished with overthrowing of feudalism but assumed a new dimension in decadent moribund capitalism is reflected in viewing women as an objective of satisfying consumerist lust. This is a part of the all-out cultural degradation bred by dying reactionary capitalism-imperialism. So, there is widespread proliferation of sex-perversion, raw violence, obscenity, vulgar exhibition of female body in commercial advertisements and spurt of rotten filthy contents in the media including social media as well as entertainment channels and films.  This is also contributing to spike in crime on women.Ruling capitalism derives immense benefits by this reckless promotion of crude indecency because more is the social sickness and depravity, more the people in general and the youth in particular are dispossessed of all the finer senses, sensibilities, tenderness, ethics, morality and are intoxicated with the thought of satiating animal instinct.And if the people particularly young generation are thus emasculated from within, less would be the possibility of any united conscious upsurge against oppressive capitalist order. Because mentally crippled people with a broken backbone cannot stand firmly against crime and injustice.

Insight into casteist exploitation 

Let us make it clear at the outset that when we have been using the terms ‘higher caste’ or ‘lower caste’, we are only speaking terms of the prevailing thoughts in the society. For Marxists who are believers in scientific analysis of history and law-governance of social development, the caste identity is an artificial distinctiveness derived from social stratification of bygone years which we have explained below. But the feature of caste oppression in India cannot be wished away either and its cause needs to be understood in proper perspective. It is no secret that in India, patriarchal domination, misogynistic mentality and upper caste highhandedness are  pronounced even after 70 years of achieving political independence. Persecution of the economically backward socially marginalized so called lower caste people has virtually been a virulent social evil  in this country. Rape, lynching, physical assault, discrimination and deprivation, meting out slave-like behaviour, bullying to submission—such are the attacks, humiliations and injustice the disadvantaged lower caste people including dalits are made to live with in capitalist India. The ruling monopolists and their political agents of different hues are custodians of such brutality, injustice and inhumanness that a vast section of underprivileged marginalized impoverished Indians face. Class exploitation is inherent in capitalism. The handful of ruling monopolists exploit the millions of toiling masses irrespective of their casteist, ethnic, religious or such other affiliations. But, in India, this class exploitation often takes the form of casteist oppression. Why is it so?

The cause lies in the specific context and history of Indian society. A unique feature in the social structure of India has been the caste system which connotes hierarchical endogamic social division formulated by none other than the then ruling dispensation. In feudal India, under self-sufficient village economic system, a stratification of the society determined the occupation of its members.This stratification played an important role in both economy and social organizations then. The rulers used this social stratification to formulate the caste system. Thus historically, it turned out that the feudal  landowning class in general belonged to the so called higher castes and the tillers as well as other working populace belonged to the so called lower caste. In other words, the exploiters generally were generally having an upper caste identity and the exploited the lower caste identity. Thus, in the Indian society in feudal period, caste and class were found to be interwoven.  Class exploitation assumed the form of caste oppression in many cases. Misogyny also has its root in patriarchal mooring of feudal culture. Women in feudal society were virtually viewed as subordinate to men not allowed to undertake any activity except looking after household works, bearing and rearing children and acting as per wishes of husbands. They were bound to obediently carry out orders of the male heads of the family as well as abide by the injunctions of the self-declared elders of the society. They had no right, no freedom, no autonomy. They were indeed consigned to a secluded life. Women were made to believe that they were destined to this place in the society and hence more they reconciled with it, the better. Even in the sphere of sex, men were licensed to do anything including promiscuity and polygamy  while the so called ‘chastity’ rule applied exclusively to women. So while both men and women faced feudal oppression, women were confronted with an additional oppression—that is the oppression of an unkind patriarchal society. The same male dominance coupled with debauched mentality persisting in and nurtured by degenerated capitalism is manifest in objectification of females and the crude misogynistic conducts, now and then raising their head.

Secondly, caste-stratified social organization in dying feudalism was mired in senseless rituals, bigoted thoughts and a host of prejudices. So it impeded the process of development of advanced social thinking and striking out new paths towards progress. No doubt inroad of capitalism in Indian economy preceded by enlightenment of the soil by the higher thoughts of renaissance dealt a blow to the hoary system and ultimately Indian national bourgeoisie captured state power through compromise with the British imperialist rulers. But democratization of the Indian society, which was a task of anti-feudal bourgeois democratic revolution,  remained unfulfilled due to the half-baked and truncated bourgeois reforms owing to the compromising character of Indian capitalism in the given historical epoch. So, the caste system could not be eradicated, rather was preserved by the ruling Indian monopolists to serve their class interest of keeping people disunited and sunk in prejudiced and regressive thoughts. Thirdly, the Indian working class also had a specific feature. Though they, uprooted from land, came to the cities to work in the factories, their links with the old village-based society were not completely severed. Hence,  age-old feudal superstitions, caste feelings, obscurantist thoughts and rusticity remained ingrained in their cultural-mental makeup. The ruling monopolists from their heinous class interest went on fomenting such prejudiced mindset so that caste questions and such other divisive thoughts not only remained alive but took further grip on the society. This  made the Indian soil fertile for casteist divide and oppression to continue. With India becoming politically independent by dethroning feudal autocracy and replacing foreign imperialist rule, exploitation of man by man did not end. Only the nature of exploitation changed. Now it is the Indian monopolists who are in power and as part and parcel of the obsolete reactionary world imperialism-capitalism, are bringing down inhuman oppression on the toiling people in every sphere of life. So, as against feudal oppression and colonial domination, it is now exploitation of labour by capital. Agriculture is also governed by capitalist relations of production.

And as we know, the class which controls economy also controls politics, social domain and culture. So, today the socio-cultural-political sphere is controlled by the ruling monopolists in a manner suited to their vile class interest. Since most of the industrial workers as well the poor and marginalized peasants and agricultural labourers belong to so-called lower castes by birth while the capitalist owners and rural bourgeoisie are mainly having an upper caste identity as per contours of caste-stratified society of yester years, class exploitation in capitalist India often becomes intertwined with caste oppression. It is, however, to be borne in mind that such differences in terms of caste identity by birth exist among the ruling bourgeoisie as well. But, in so far as class interest and class motive of profit maximization by ruthless exploitation of labour power of workers (including white collar workers and intellectuals) and peasants are concerned, all capitalists, whether industrial or agricultural, belong the same genre, the same class identity. So, a so-called higher caste worker is exploited in the same manner as a so called lower caste worker, irrespective of whether the exploiter by birth has a higher or lower class identity. The division is between the exploiting class and the exploited myriads, irrespective of casteist, religious, lingual, regional  or ethnic identity. Crux of capitalism is class exploitation and the only scientific course to abolish it is intensification of class struggle based on higher proletarian ideology, morality and culture. If casteist bias or hatred is sought to be retaliated by counter-casteist bias or abhorrence, that would only strengthen the hands of ruling capitalism which wants such divides and divisive attitudes to be sustained for driving a wedge into the desired unity of the exploited and oppressed millions.

So the battleline is clearly drawn between the exploiting bourgeoisie and the exploited toiling millions—the workers, peasants and middle class. Intensification of class struggle warrants cemented fraternity and solidarity of the exploited rising above all divides. Hence, eradication of caste oppression is contingent upon abolition of class-divided capitalist society. Unless we have a clear understanding of the character of capitalist exploitation in capitalist India, we shall not be able to understand how class exploitation is hidden behind many the incidents of caste oppression. In that event, we shall not find the correct way to fight out the evil. In fact, casteist or racial bias, if not hatred, though an offshoot of feudalism are now structural cradle to capitalism-imperialism throughout the world.

Fascist autocratic conduct of government-administration

Since the very foundation of the capitalist society is now trembling, the ruling monopolists haunted by the fear-complex of anti-capitalist socialist revolution, besides promoting cultural pollution and precipitating social divides based on caste, creed, religion or ethnicity, are also bent upon regimenting the administrative machinery in such a way as to become servile executors of their dictates trampling underfoot all democratic principles, conduct and functioning. At the same time, the ruling monopolists are working overtime to ensure that manipulative as well as suppressive apparatus takes a firm root in every walk of governance. Also they are out to destroy the very fulcrum of justice delivery system as injustice is what they are thriving on. So injustice and not justice is ruling the roost in dying capitalism.

Sexual violence and discrimination faced by women belonging to underprivileged oppressed poor segment like the dalits and the justification given by the protagonists of upper caste highhandedness who are bootlickers of the ruling monopolists and wedded to the task of serving bourgeois class interest for pelf and power, has always revolved around the doctrine of male dominance and caste supremacy which are now readymade fodders in the canon of exploitative capitalism.

Hathras brutality exposed this inhuman and fascistic face of capitalist rule

Ghastly Hathras incident has glaringly exposed the inhuman and fascistic face of capitalist India.  If one looks at the sequential occurrences in the Hathras rape case, one can find that it underlined all the above-mentioned heinous socio-political aspects of the capitalist rule i.e. casteist bias, misogynistic mindset, abetting grisly crime on women and administrative autocracy.

The teenage dalit girl went to the field for gathering  grass to feed the cows. The four men belonging to the rural gentry who are reported to have harassed her earlier also, dragged her inside the millet field, gang-raped and tortured her mercilessly. Her mother who found her lying in a precarious condition in the part of the fields owned by the Thakur neighbours of upper caste identity, was  quoted as saying, “My daughter was lying naked with her tongue protruding from her mouth. Her eyes were bulging out and she was bleeding from her mouth, her neck and there was blood near her eyes. I also noticed bleeding from her vagina. I quickly covered her with my saree and started screaming.” Post the assault, she was taken to the nearby police station  and from there to the hospital. At the hospital, despite the trauma, she clearly named her neighbours and their associates as her sexual assaulters. Over two weeks after the assault, she was transferred to Safdarjung Medical Hospital in Delhi where she died. In three videos in circulation the girl was clearly heard of being gang-raped. Though the autopsy report of the victim referred to “rape and strangulation”, UP police claimed that a forensic report of her viscera has ruled out any rape or gang rape but attributed the cause of death to “injury to the cervical spine by indirect blunt trauma”. Notably, the forensic investigation was done on samples collected days after the incident when presence of sperms (evidence of rape) cannot be detected. This clearly smacks of a grave conspiracy to hush up the truth.  A forensic examination of the viscera and that too after 11 days of the gangrape was an irrelevant exercise and given the circumstances, cannot be a substantial evidence to be used to discount the possibility of rape. It showed how the police-highest district administration behaved in a most cruel and biased manner making a mockery of the responsibilities vested with them. It obviates to say that this could not be possible without tacit approval of the incumbent government. This apprehension is further strengthened by the fact that within no time, the government through a note circulated by a hired Public Relations (PR) agency said that “Police action (that is burning the body without consent of the family and in fact keeping the family in confinement—P Era) was prompt to prevent untoward incident: further intensive probe into the matter.”

Though the BJP-led UP government, under pressure of people’s rage and widespread condemnation, announced forming a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the matter, the fact is that this was nothing but an eyewash.  Before the SIT could initiate the procedure of probing, the government stated through the same note released by the PR agency that  “The reports also revealed the conspiracy to push the state into caste turmoil…”SIT is sure to unveil evil design behind the whole incident (and) the vested interests who wanted to create an atmosphere of disharmony in Uttar Pradesh.” Incredible indeed! The findings were foretold before commencement of the probe. Moreover, key CCTV footage, which is a crucial piece of evidence, is  reported “lost”  from the hospital where the victim girl was taken for treatment. The Hathras village is now shut behind bolted doors. The trauma of the victim is being trivialized. Could anything be more farcical than this? The inanity of whataboutery— the technique or practice of responding to an accusation or difficult question by making a counter-accusation or raising a different issue— of the BJP government has been nakedly exposed.  Moreover, Hathras incident has revealed that there is a surrealist tone  in the unceasing crimes against women as in their cruelty. The cruelty is exacerbated when misogyny is crossed with casteist bias and ruling class dominance.

Shameless conduct of the BJP leaders

What was more revealing was that the BJP leaders instead of condemning the crime took the side of the accused and even did not hesitate to indulge in character assassination of the victim. Ranjeet Bahadur Srivastava, BJP MP from Barabanki, was heard saying in a video which went viral on social media that “The victim must have called the boy to the field because they were having an affair. This news is already out on social media and news channels. She must have gotten caught…Such girls are found dead in only some places. They will be found dead in sugarcane, corn and millet fields or in bushes, gutters or forests. Why are they never found dead in paddy or wheat fields?”… “I can say with guarantee these boys are innocent”. Surendra Singh,  BJP MP from Balia, UP, has declared that incidents of rape would end if parents instilled ‘sanskar’ (traditional morality) in their daughters. Such incidents (like Hathras) would not stop through ‘shashan’ (governance), but only when mothers and fathers teach ‘sanskar’ and good modest behaviour to their young daughters. “Governance doesn’t matter, women must be reformed”, insisted Singh. That means,  all aspersions are cast against the victim and her family, while the culprits are given a clean chit even before findings of formal enquiry. It reminds us that during the ‘Nirbhaya’ case, self-appointed moral policemen loudly questioned why she was travelling with her boyfriend at night which did not uphold ‘sanskar’? It goes without saying that woman-hating patriarchs use the word ‘sanskar’ as a perverse, hypocritical and motivated term to terrorise women and keep them in line as they never refer to ‘sanskar’ to castigate male criminal behaviour.  Such examples of nurturing casteist and misogynistic mindset by the RSS-BJP leaders are galore. Even philosophically, the so called “sanatan Hindu dharma” (eternal Hindu religion) they espouse for is premised on “Manusmriti’ which upholds Brahminical supremacy and designates corporal punishments for the lower castes. Allegiance of the RSS-BJP towards Manusmriti is further evident from the fact that, when the constitution of India was being finalised, the RSS complained: “To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”. Endorsing the same view, M S Golwalkar, the RSS ideologue, held that “the first and greatest law giver of the world – Manu, laid down in his code, directing all the peoples of the world to come to learn their duties at the holy feet of the “Eldest-born” Brahmans of this land,”  He not only called Manu the supreme law giver but has also referred to him at various places to cite the supremacy of the Brahmins. The conspicuous silence of both prime minister and home minster over such a brutal and criminal act is also worth taking cognizance of.  

Casteism as a tool of reaping electoral mileage

But then why the RSS-BJP leaders who are apologists of Manusmriti try to outreach the dalit community in an apparent bid to redraw its image among them? Why did Yogi Adityanath and other BJP leaders have been showcasing in the media their orchestrated visits to dalit residences and sharing food with them? Because electoral exigency compels them to do so to woo dalit votes and create, what is known as, ‘dalit vote bank’. Same is the case with other bourgeois parties. Even the ruling class creates and nurtures various casteist outfits so that the oppressed and deprived communities including the dalits designated as lower caste by the establishment, in absence of due political consciousness, mistake those casteist outfits and casteist leaders  as their representatives or messiahs and rally behind them. Riding on this casteist feeling, these caste-based parties derive electoral advantage and remain afloat in the corridor of power. That pelf and power only matters for such casteist parties are attested by the fact that at opportune moments, they do not hesitate to join hands with the Manuwadi political parties to share power and occupy ministerial chairs. Even after such a grim tragedy in Hathras, the well-known UP-centric casteist outfits have been eerily silent save and except some benign tweets and one or two token protests.  

No doubt some members of the under-privileged marginalized communities are able to brave all odds and proving their worth in various fields through their own accomplishments. They are not stooges of the ruling class but successful because of their own efforts, merit, perseverance and persistence. But simultaneously there is another feature which is worth taking note of. In order to hoodwink the underprivileged segments, the ruling monopolists pick up a tiny group of affluent ‘elites’ from among the communities who enjoy all privileges and clout as part of the handful of dominating rich in the society. Soon they become an appendage to ruling capitalism, being totally indifferent to and unconcerned about the rapid degeneration of the life and livelihood of the populace having lower caste identity. When the yawning gap between the haves and have-nots in decadent moribund capitalism is making social stratification more pronounced and vivid, the ruling monopolists, thus, in a crafty move, carves out a privileged group from the most oppressed section of the masses  to  be  pliable  to  its class interest and project them as proof of prosperity (!) of the dalit and other underprivileged  communities occupying lower rungs in so called caste hierarchy.

Similarly, the ruling class also handpicks some aspirant persons from among such communities and then pitchforks them to coveted positions in governance or administration to prove so called empowerment of the backward disadvantaged populace. For example, to pretend its concern for dalit cause and outsmart its political rivals, the ruling BJP has selected a person stated to be from a dalit community as the President of India. But has that lessened the plight, penury and misery of the dalits and other marginalized pauperized communities?  Has anyone seen the President uttering a single word against the horrid Hathras rape and murder or any similar incident? If he has not, then is he discharging his constitutional responsibilities to the people or is preferring to remain in good book of the ruling BJP, trusted political representative of the ruling monopolists, to hold on to the chair? For such self-proclaimed dalit or backward segment leaders, power is what matters most. Nothing else not even worst kind of repression and oppression on the dalits and other toiling backward sections weigh on them.

What is to be done

The suffering toiling masses particularly the dalit brethren and members of marginalized penury-stricken communities need to realize one truth in right earnest. All the evils of socio-cultural assaults, discrimination, negligence, denial of due honour  as well as incidents of casteist oppression are, in fact,  variants of ruthless class exploitation in the capitalist system we are having. This worn-out system is breeding corruption, nepotism, growing inequality, mutual hatred, fanaticism, injustice and cultural degradation. Following the inexorable course of history, capitalism has long become obsolete and is fighting to the last for bare survival. The question of abolishing all oppression and exploitation including caste oppression shattering life is, therefore, inseparably linked with the question of overthrowing capitalism from power. The battle is between the few super-rich exploitative capitalist owners of the means of production and the millions of oppressed workers, peasants and all other sections of toiling people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, region, ethnicity or language. Far from being a caste feud, it is a conscious class struggle led by the vanguard detachment of the proletariats which can show the light beyond the tunnel.

So, unless the crusade against growing crime on women, is linked with the crystallizing revolutionary struggle to dethrone capitalism, the desired result can never come by. Even the cry for women’s liberation from the stranglehold of patriarchy can be channelized along the right track, only  if the struggle for the desired emancipation develops as conducive to anti-capitalist revolutionary movement. No bourgeois party, irrespective of hues, who only wanders around the rendezvous of power and promises permanent reprieve within the precincts of bourgeois parliamentarism, does anything but defrauding the toiling masses, distracting them from the correct path, embroiling them in mutual distrust and even fratricidal feuds  and thereby using them as pawns to make lucrative political career through farce of election. Sole objective of such parties is to protect capitalism, divert people’s attention from the truth, exhaust people’s just movement into the blind alley of reformism-legalism and dissuade them from the imperative task of intensifying revolutionary movement of the oppressed myriads. These vile attempts must be thwarted.  Cultural oppression and onslaughts  on dalits and other poor marginalized communities, felonious assaults on women, lynching or any such crime needs to be foiled with the powerful instrument of people’s conscious struggle. Wherever an incident of rape, gangrape or  crime  on women would take place, people need to come forward, build up struggle committees and force the government-administration to take prompt  effective  action  to ensure delivery of due justice. This alone can counter the heinous attempts by the bourgeois parties like the ruling BJP to silence any protest that goes against their grain. The milieu of such powerful organized democratic movements under correct revolutionary leadership would provide the right ambience to foster an alternative healthy cultural movement and conduct fierce ideological struggle against all shades of perverted bourgeois culture and debased thoughts like casteism and misogyny, while bringing to the fore the new, higher values of life. This alone can build up an effective bulwark against the growing rape and violence against women and casteist oppression. At the same time, this surge of conscious people’s movement alone would build up pressure on the government and government parties to pay heed to people’s voice and do the needful. This is the only way to free the society from the scourge of such savage acts.

[References :

India Today 06-01-13, 07-10-20, Sabrangindia 14-08-16, Frontier Weekly-29-09-17, , Economic Times-20-03-17,Financial Express-02-05-18, Newsclick 10-01-20, Hindustan Times -10-01-20, 30-09-20, 02-10-20, 03-10-20, indiatimes.com 01-10-20, NDTV 02-10-20, en.gaonconnection.com 29-09-20, Ananda Bazar Patrika, 03-10-20, 07-10-20, 09-10-20, The Telegraph 01-10-20, Indian Express 30-09-20, 01-10-20, 02-10-20, 03-10-20, 13-10-20, The Print-02-10-20, scroll.in -02-10-20, Times of India 04-10-20, 07-10-20, 08-10-20, 13-10-20, 15-10-20, Times News Network 03-10-20, 04-10-20, The Wire-29-03-17, 03-09-20, 03-10-20, 05-10-20, BBC-03-10-20, New Indian Express 10-11-19, 05-10-20, 07-10-20, kafila online 08-10-20, The Qunt-01-10-20, We, Our Nationhood Defined, M S Golwalkar, PP 117)

In 3 videos, Hathras girl said she was raped, strangled when she resisted

At least thrice before she died, the 19-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras had said she had been raped. “Zabardasti” is the word that recurs in all three videos TOI is in possession of, in which she repeats the same harrowing account. This is how they are, she had said, and they had attempted this before.

In the first, a 48-second video shot on September 14, she is lying on the floor outside the Chandpa police station, flies hovering and ants crawling about her. “They strangled me,” she says. A man asks why. She hesitates. Asked again, she answers, “I didn’t let them force themselves on me.” The man asks again, “Why did they strangle you?” She repeats, “Because I resisted.” When asked if she has any other injuries, she sticks out her tongue, full of gashes.

The second video, 46-second-long, was shot at the district hospital in Hathras the same day. She was first taken there. Lying on a bed, she is asked by a journalist — who hurt her? “Sandeep,” she answers. “Tongue. Strangled me,” she manages to say, explaining where she was injured. She is asked again, why? “Koi baat nahin (Nothing). I had gone to gather fodder. He dragged me inside, tried to force himself on me. When I resisted, he strangled me,” she says. The man asks her, “Kya koi ranjish chal rahi hai (is there a feud)?” Yes, she answers.

The third, part of the statement she had given to the police on September 22, was at Aligarh’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College. In the 5-minute 17-second video, the girl goes over what had happened again. “I was raped. Ravi and Sandeep were in together … They had tried to rape me a month ago, but I had run away,” she says through an oxygen mask. “But that day, I was raped. The two raped me, the rest ran away when they saw my mother approach. I was partially conscious by then.” When she is asked if she has been pressured into saying she has been raped, she says, “Koi dabav nahin hai (there is no pressure). Woh log aise hi hain (that is how they are) … He should not be spared, he can do this again. He threatens me, goli se uda doonga.” Before her statement, the video begins with her mother’s narrative. “She was lying in the field, her salwar pulled down, her tongue cut. There were five people. I saw only three. I was in the field, a little further away. She was out of my sight,” she says. When asked if she saw her daughter dragged away, she answers, “When I could not see her around, I started looking. Then, three of them I saw. There was Sandeep. He’s the one who strangled her … There was Ravi and another guy.”

A senior police officer said the videos, which surfaced later, are now part of the CBI investigation. “All angles are being looked into. The first FIR was registered on the basis of a written complaint … After the girl’s detailed statement on September 22, rape charges were added and the other three accused arrested,” the officer added. According to the police, on September 14, she was brought to the Chandpa police station at 10.30am, from where she was taken to the district hospital at Hathras and finally admitted to the Aligarh hospital at 2pm.

There’s a fourth video. Of the crime spot, where the girl was allegedly raped and left in a near-dead state. Part of the millet crop is flattened. Just ahead, a heap of fodder lies on a sack, as if ready to be carried back home. A sickle lies next to it, and a blue slipper abandoned. (Times of India 13-10-20)

Hathras case : Late-night cremation of victim violation of human rights, says High Court

The Allahabad High Court has observed that the late-night cremation of the Hathras woman who died after alleged gang-raped was a violation of human rights for which the responsibility should be fixed.

The Lucknow bench of the high court also directed the state government to lay down modalities for cremation in Hathras-like situations.

Considering the sensitivity of the issue, the court directed Uttar Pradesh officials, political parties and all others to avoid making any statement in public on it. A division bench of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Rajan Roy also expected the electronic and print media to observe restraint while reporting and discussing the matter.

The order was issued Tuesday, a day after it was reserved when the bench heard the victim’s family and government officials.

It said the cremation in the middle of the night without following rituals violated the victim’s human rights as well as those of her family and relatives.

Family members of the victim girl claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time. The hurried cremation fuelled outrage over the incident and the high court took suo motu cognizance of it. (Indian Express 13-10-20)

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