A day after he was detained while marching to Hathras in Uttar Pradesh expressing his solidarity with the family of a gang-rape victim, Rahul Gandhi on Friday (October 2) quoted Mahatma Gandhi in a tweet, saying he “won’t bow to any sort of injustice.”
The victim died on Wednesday and was allegedly forcibly cremated in the village by police, sparking outrage across the country.
Rahul was detained along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on the way to Hathras.
“I won’t be afraid of anyone in the world. I won’t bow to any sort of injustice. I will defeat lies with the power of truth, and will face all the struggles while fighting untruth… Heartiest greetings on Gandhi Jayanti,” Rahul Gandhi tweeted in Hindi, invoking Mahatma Gandhi on his 151st birth anniversary.
On Thursday, in a face-off with the UP Police, Rahul was pushed and he fell to the ground. Rahul and Priyanka were briefly detained for violating a ban on large gatherings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Why are you arresting me? What are the grounds for the arrest? What law am I violating,” Rahul Gandhi told the police as a large posse of them confronted him during a heated exchange. The police told him that they were charging him under Section 188 (for defying official orders).
A police case was lodged on Thursday against Rahul and Priyanka under the Epidemic Act. The First Information Report names 150 Congress workers, who had accompanied the two leaders.
Several political leaders condemned the incident. “Reckless behaviour of UP police towards Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is extremely condemnable. It is reprehensible for those who are supposed to uphold the law to trample upon democratic values in such a manner,” NCP leader Sharad Pawar tweeted.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav said: “It is the duty and democratic right of opposition parties to protest every indiscriminate misuse of power by the oppressive regime! Voice and will of the people cannot be silenced or suppressed! We unequivocally condemn the arrest of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi.”
The UP government dismissed the protest as a “political stunt”.
The 20-year-old rape-murder victim had suffered multiple fractures, paralysis and severe spinal injury when she was assaulted by four men of the so-called upper castes from her village on September 14. The police said there was a gash in her tongue because she had bitten it when the men were trying to strangle her.
The family alleged they were not allowed to be a part of the late night cremation by the UP Police, despite repeated appeals. The state police said the cremation was done with the consent of the victim’s family. On Thursday, the police said that the forensic report did not “confirm” rape, a claim strongly criticized by legal experts who referred to the Nirbhaya case and sought to remind the UP Police that the very definition of rape has changed following an amendment to relevant IPC laws.
The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on its own took cognizance of the case and has issued notices to the state government and the local top officials. The hearing is due on October 12.