In a shocking turn of events, family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died two weeks after being gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, alleged on Wednesday (September 30) that they were locked in their house while the police forcibly cremated her body in the middle of the night.
Videos doing the rounds on social media showed the family having an argument with the police near the ambulance carrying the body of the deceased victim.
Local police officers, however, told PTI that the cremation was carried out as per the wishes of the family.
The woman was gang-raped allegedly by four men on September 14 while she was cutting grass in the field. She had suffered multiple injuries on her body and a deep cut on her tongue as a result of resisting the perpetrators’ attempt to strangulate her.
After her condition deteriorated, she was referred to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital where she died on Tuesday (September 29).
As news of her death spread, protests broke out in Delhi as well as in Hathras with all sections of society, including politicians, sports and cine stars and activists, expressing their anguish and demanding justice for her.
The family left from Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Tuesday night amid heavy police deployment. The body was taken by the Uttar Pradesh police, which reached Hathras earlier than the family members, claimed a kin of the victim.
“The police have forcibly taken the dead body, and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police,” one of the brothers of the woman told PTI over phone at 1 am on Wednesday.
Another relative said that the woman’s father was accompanied by 30 to 40 people, mostly relatives, and others from their neighbourhood had gone to the crematorium near Bool Garhi village, under Chandpa police station limits, in the district in western UP.
Senior police and administration officials were also present at the crematorium in the middle of the night, an official said.
“Humein ye samajh nahi aa raha kyun, kya chahiye… kaisi rajneeti kar rahe hain ye log, saare ulte seedhe bayaan de rahe hain ke ladki ka rape nahi hua hai… pata nahi kya chahiye inko (We are unable to understand, what they want… what kind of politics is this, they are giving random statements like the woman has not been raped! We don’t know what they want),” said the relative who was home with the grieving family.
“Ye sab is maamle ko thanda karne ke liye bol rahe hain… (They are doing all this to hush up the case),” he alleged.
An NDTV report said the woman’s father and brother were taken away by the police in a black Scorpio with UP plates when they sat on a protest when not handed over the body.
The report quoting locals said the police vehicle carrying the body of the victim was stopped at multiple points, but the cops allegedly pushed the protesters away and took the body to the funeral ground.
A human chain was formed by Hathras Police to keep journalists away, locals told NDTV.
Requests were also made by the family to District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar to take the body for the last rites the next day, as per tradition.
However, police cremated the body at 2.30 pm while most of the family members were kept out of the ritual.
When contacted, Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir told PTI in a text message: All procedures as per wish of family .. (sic).”
(With inputs from agencies)