iNDICA NEWS BUREAU & AGENCIES
Eight years after the brutal rape and murder of a young physiotherapy student in Delhi forced changes in India’s laws to protect women, the brutal killing of a 19-year-old in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, has sparked national outrage.
The girl, a Dalit — the lowest rung in the caste hierarchy — was allegedly gang-raped by four upper-caste men who cut her tongue cut off.
However, some news agencies have quoted local police as saying that the post-mortem did not show sexual assault.
She was paralyzed from the waist down from the assault that happened September 15.
For two weeks, she battled for life. Tuesday night, she died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.
Her body was cremated early Wednesday in her village amid tight security and allegations that police had denied the victim’s family the chance to take her body home one last time.
“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,” the victim’s brother told the media.
Videos have surfaced on social media that show people pleading with the authorities.
A video by news channel NDTV [screen grab in photograph above] shows the girl’s father pleading with the authorities for some time.
Hathras police issued a notice saying the coercion being talked about on social media was a canard. It said: “The family cremated the body with due rituals under the supervision of police and administration.”
Superintendent of police Vikrant Veer denied any “urgency” by the police in holding the cremation at night even though cremations do not normally take place in rural areas after sunset, Indian news agencies reported.
IANS reported: “He added that the cremation was done by the family as usual after the body reached Boolgarhi village. The SP claimed that the situation is calm in the village, but heavy police force has been deployed.”
The police claimed that the post-mortem report did not confirm any sexual assault, IANS added.
“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,” news agency PTI quoted a relative of the victim, who was home with the grieving family, as saying.
Congress party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “Government has snatched away the family’s right to perform the cremation of the victim. The government did not provide her security and timely treatment and now they have denied her dignity in death.”