The Uttar Pradesh police have cordoned off the Hathras village where a Dalit woman was raped and murdered two weeks ago. Journalists have been blocked from meeting the victim’s family, and there are reports that the phones of the victim’s family members have been seized by the authorities.
Such strictness has only fueled indignation among people and anger among political parties who suspect the authorities’ motives in imposing such harsh measures.
The police have set up barricades all along the routes leading up to the village and deployed policemen even on the dirt tracks to prevent “outsiders” from accessing the village.
There are reports that the authorities had locked in the family, seized their mobile phones and even hit the victim’s father. One source told journalists that the police have taken over the house.
A villager said the police are also camping outside the toilets of the victim’s house.
The teenager was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying that the family was desperate to meet the media. “My uncle (victim’s father) also made an unsuccessful attempt to escape from the village with me. I know the secret exit routes through the agricultural routes because of which I could make it,” he said.
He alleged that the police cut off the family’s contact with the outside world. “They have seized our mobile phones and won’t allow us to meet the media. All we want is to speak to journalists about the pressure we are under,” he said. The teenager said that a senior officer even kicked the victim’s father in his chest on Wednesday, causing him to fall unconscious.
The police have refuted the charges, saying that Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code prohibiting the assembly of four or more people was in force in the area. A senior officer said the ongoing probe by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) was the reason for the restrictions.
“The three-member SIT is conducting the probe in the village. Till then, entry of the media is restricted. We are also maintaining law and order. So, no political parties and individuals are allowed inside the village,” said ASP Prakash Kumar.