Speaking to NDTV he called alleged rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras “unfortunate”.
The Uttar Pradesh government and several BJP minister have claimed that the woman was not raped, and this wasn’t a caste crime.
Siddiqui highlighted in his remarks that caste atrocities are very real by recalling his own experiences of being discriminated against.
He told NDTVthat his family was discriminated against in his village in Uttar Pradesh because his grandmother was from a backward caste. He said, “What is wrong is wrong. Our artiste community is also speaking out against what happened in Hathras. It is very important to speak out. It is a very unfortunate incident.”
“The fact that I am famous doesn’t matter to them. It is deeply entrenched within them...it is in their veins. They consider it their pride. The Sheikh Siddiquis are the upper caste, and they will not have anything to do with those they consider beneath them. Even today it is there. It is very difficult,” Siddiqui said.
Four men, belonging to the Thakur community, have been accused of the crime and are in jail. However, dominant caste communities in Hathras have protested their arrest and even threatened harm to those who stand in their way.
Activists and lawyers have questioned the way the case was being handled by the Yogi Adityanath government.
Sheetal Kamble, an activist based in Maharashtra who did her Ph.D. on patterns of violence against Dalit women from TISS Mumbai, told Huffpost India that the Uttar Pradesh administration’s conduct in the Hathras case is the rule rather than the exception.
“I have dealt with nine such cases (atrocities against Dalit women) since 2014 and almost all of them had a similar pattern. The last stage in dilution of such cases is to term it as a land dispute and not a caste conflict. The pattern is clear—to prove that the victim’s psychological state is at fault or her character is bad. Another part of this pattern is to make the village hostile so that no fact-finding team or activists or independent investigators can reach the village,” said Kamble.