Hathras rape: UP govt defends 2 am funeral, tells SC it was to avoid violence

The state govt’s affidavit cites ‘law & order problems’ in anticipation of Babri verdict amid COVID pandemic

The victim was forcefully cremated by police in the dead of the night and without the consent or presence of her family, on September 30.

The UP police informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday (October 6) that the Hathras victim was cremated late at night “to avoid large-scale violence” the next day, citing intelligence inputs of “major law and order problems”.

In an affidavit to the top court, the state government justified the “forced” cremation saying there was a high alert in the district because of the Babri mosque verdict a day later.

“The district administration at Hathras had been receiving several intelligence inputs since the morning of September 29 on the manner in which the dharna had taken place at Safdarjung hospital and the whole issue was being exploited and a caste/communal colour was being given,” said the affidavit.

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It said it had received specific inputs that lakhs of protesters “of both communities/castes” along with supporters of political parties and the media would assemble the next morning at the village, “which is likely to turn violent and will lead to major law and order problems.”

There was also an alert because of the Babri mosque verdict amid coronavirus safety rules, said the affidavit.

“In such extraordinary circumstances, the district administration decided to convince the parents of the deceased to cremate her with all religious rites at night to avoid large-scale violence in the morning. The victim’s body was lying for almost more than 20 hours after her death and post-mortem,” said the UP government.

It told the court that once the post-mortem had been done, “there cannot be any bad intention” to speed up the cremation “except to obviate the potential violent situation resulting from the planned caste divide by certain vested interests”.

The state government faced protests over the manner in which the 20-year-old woman, who was allegedly subjected to gang rape and severe physical assault, was cremated in the absence of her family members. The Dalit woman died in Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital earlier that day following the incident on September 14. Her death had sparked protests outside the hospital.

The UP police insist that she was cremated at night with “full rites and customs” only in the interest of law and order.

The affidavit also accused vested interest of spreading a false narrative. It said a Special Investigation Team was set up for a fair probe and the state had already recommended a CBI investigation.

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