Only reporters can visit Hathras village, rules Joint Magistrate

Political parties kept off the village where a woman was gang raped and brutally assaulted; her death and ‘forced cremation’ led to outrage across the country

The UP police claimed there was no rape by citing a forensic report that said it found no semen in the woman's body. Photo: Twitter

Two days after a Hathras village in UP was sealed following outrage over the death of a 20-year-old woman who was allegedly gang raped and tortured, the borders were re-opened on Saturday (October 3).

Only journalists can enter the village, a senior official said. But political leaders will not be permitted, he added. “The restrictions were ordered to maintain law and order,” said Prem Prakash Meena, Hathras Joint Magistrate.

He rejected charges made by the victim’s family that they were locked up in their homes and their phones were taken away. “The allegations by a boy who spoke to some reporters on Friday are baseless. If a child can escape, it shows there were no restrictions on the family. No phones were confiscated,” he said.

On Friday, the family of the victim had alleged that they were “not being allowed to come out” of their homes.

A boy from the family who spoke to the reporters said: “They have taken away our phones. My family has sent me here to talk to the reporters. I escaped and came here. They are not letting us come out are they not allowing the media to come in. They are threatening us as well.

“The District Magistrate kicked my uncle in chest… he fainted after he was hit,” he added.

In the last two days, several opposition leaders have been stopped from entering the village amid fiery protests.

On Thursday, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped when they were leading a march to the village. Trinamool Congress leaders Derek O’Brien, along with several other party leaders, on Friday said they were manhandled by the UP police when they were near the village where the victim lived.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will make another attempt this afternoon to meet the family of the 20-year-old victim. “Nothing in the world can stop me from going to Hathras to meet this unhappy family to share their pain,” Gandhi tweeted.

The victim died on Tuesday after suffering multiple fractures, paralysis and severe spinal injury in an 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 brutality and the post-midnight “forced” funeral by the police triggered a widespread outrage.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday (October 2) participated in a protest at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar.

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