Family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped by four Thakur men say they continue to face harassment and intimidation at the hands of the police and the local administration, two days after their daughter’s body was forcefully burnt by the police against the family’s wishes.
Even as reports said the family’s home in Hathras was surrounded by the police with no member being allowed to speak to the media, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath tweeted saying his government was committed to the safety and security of all “mothers and sisters” of the state.
Hathras Additional SP Prakash Kumar said on Friday afternoon that the restriction on the entry of media into the village will stay till the SIT completes its probe. “Due to the prevailing law and order situation, no political delegations or individuals will be allowed to visit the village,” he said, ANI quoted.
On Thursday, ahead of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi’s attempted visit to the village, the UP police had barricaded roads to Hathras citing coronavirus concerns, NDTV reported. Meanwhile, the borders of the district were sealed and Section 144 imposed till the end of the month.
A young member of the family on Friday told mediapersons outside a field near their home that they had been restricted to their home, while their phones had been taken away, and a family member had been kicked in the chest by the district magistrate.
The Wire’s Ismat Ara said she spoke to the victim’s brother secretly over the phone in which he said: “We can’t go out, and nobody from outside can come in right now. All our work has come to a halt, women are not able to use the toilet or wash clothes...”
Meanwhile, Times of India journalist Anuja Jaiswal shared photos of the protest held by the dominant caste community in support of the accused Thakur men as well as the heavy deployment outside the family’s home.
When Ismat Ara spoke to the victim’s brother earlier, he had said the family feared backlash from the Thakur community in the village.
ABP reported on Friday that its cameraman and journalist were taken away by the police and stopped from speaking to the family.
According to journalist Rohini Singh, the family has also not gotten access to their daughter’s medical reports.
On Thursday evening, Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala shared a video in which the Hathras district magistrate was seen making threatening the victim’s father.
“Half of the media people have left today, the other half will leave by tomorrow. Only we will stand with you. It is up to you whether you want to change your statement or not. We can also change” DM Praveen Kumar Laxkar was heard saying in the video.
NDTV reported that in another video in circulation, a veiled woman, believed to be the victim’s sister-in-law, said: “They are putting pressure on us. They are saying that if our daughter had died of coronavirus then she would have received compensation. They are saying the case will be rafaa-dafaa (disposed of). We are getting warnings. Our father is getting warnings.”
“They are threatening us with videos of (the victim’s) mother. At that time she was speaking whatever came to her mind... They will not let us live here. The DM is very cunning, he is trying to trick us. They are pressuring us. They are forcing us and saying our statements are not reliable, we keep changing our statements and we have no credibility,” she said as she was crying.
The Dalit woman’s father said he was being pressured by government officials and demanded a CBI probe into the matter. The father, around 50, said that he was pressured into going to a police station where the district magistrate and police officials made three members of his family sign some document.
“But we are not satisfied with this. My daughter’s case should be probed by the CBI and monitored by a Supreme Court judge. We are under pressure from officials and confined to our home while the media has also been disallowed from meeting us,” he said in a video shared by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Twitter.
Mediapersons have also criticised the police for their behaviour.