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Upper-caste Hindus rape and murder low caste girl, police arrest Muslims

30th Oct 2020
Upper-caste Hindus rape and murder low caste girl, police arrest Muslims

India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party has inexplicably embroiled Muslim journalists and activists in the gang rape of young woman by upper-caste Hindu men.

(Photo credit: WikiCommons)

Mohammad Alamullah, New Delhi, India

A 19-year-old girl of the Dalit (low) caste was gang-raped by upper-caste Hindu men in Hathras, in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) on September 14. The men broke her backbone, cut her tongue and left her for dead in a field of tall millet crops, two weeks later she succumbed to her injuries at a Dehli hospital.

The victim’s family accused the police of protecting the perpetrators citing the police’s non-consensual cementation of her body at night, in violation of last rites in accordance with Hindu customs. In contradiction with the forensic report, the police are now even denying that the girl was raped.

To divert public attention from accusations that the ruling BJP led state officials are helping the upper-caste culprits evade capture while simultaneously giving the tragedy a communal twist, four Muslims travelling to the region were arrested for allegedly attempting to incite a sectarian riot and destabilise the Government.

UP Police is claiming to have “uncovered a conspiracy” hatched by Muslim outfits Popular Front of India (PFI), Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and other “mafias”. A case has been registered in the state capital Lucknow on October 3 against PFI and SDPI for several alleged crimes ranging from attempt to incite sectarian hatred to sedition.

Under the guise of investigating “a conspiracy”, police commenced mass arrests of Muslim youths. Siddique Kappan, a contributor to a popular Kerala-based website and three others have been charged under the notorious anti-terror law, UAPA.

They were arrested while travelling to Hathras and are in police remand for 14 days.
Kappan was going to Hathras to cover the tragedy. Other three —Atiqur Rehman, Masood Ahmad and Alam—are from Muzaffarnagar, Bahraich and Rampur in UP. Atiq and Jamia Millia University law student Masood are being described as members of PFI’s students’ wing Campus Front of India.

Parshant Kumar, Additional Director General of Police of UP Police, said the men were stopped at a toll on intelligence that they’re on their way to disturb the peace and that the laptop, mobile phone, and literature seized is very provocative and could disturb law and order. However, other reports say that the pamphlets discovered in their possession only demanded justice for the gang-rape victim.

Additionally, claims were made that intelligence agencies found evidence of the victim’s family being goaded against the Government. These proofs are said to include audio recordings of telephone calls by political figures and journalists inciting the family to speak against the Government and offering them 50 lakh rupees (over £50,000) to change their statements.

In a desperate ploy to quell mounting critical national and international coverage of the tragedy, including coverage by India Today showing the last rites being performed at night in police presence without the victim’s parents, BJP media cell and UP Government are resorting to unprecedented tactics to harass journalists, including recording and releasing a conversation between a reporter and the victim’s brother.

In the recording, India Today’s reporter Tanushree Pandey is heard asking the victim’s brother to record the comments of one of the family members and send it to her.

In an “Important and Urgent” announcement India Today has questioned the Government. “India Today first asks” reads the notice “why was the telephone of our reporter, who was covering the Hathras murder, being tapped? If it was Sandeep’s phone that was being tapped, then the Government needs to answer why are the phones of the grieving victim’s family under surveillance or being tapped.”

Journalists have been barred from going to the village of the victim and there is heavy police around the village. Pro-Government media outlets focused their coverage on the arrests of Muslim youths instead of the more pivotal issue, of the rape and the murder of a Dalit girl by upper-caste Hindus — have opened a new front against the Muslim community. BJP leaders too joined them in this cacophony.

Chief Minister of UP, Yogi Adityanath, told Times of India that his Government had unmasked the perpetrators of violence in the name of protest against the amended Citizenship Act and those giving shelter to members of Tablighi Jamaat who were spreading coronavirus infection in the country. “Our Government has dealt with such elements with an iron hand. Development carried out by the BJP Government is not liked by some people [read Muslims] who conspire to create an atmosphere of insecurity and seek to push the state into caste and communal conflict.”

Muslim organisations and religious leaders have expressed serious concerns on this issue. “To hide its failure UP Government is targeting the PFI. Everyone in the country knows how in the past attempts have been made to defame the PFI, but they had no proof to support their accusations and had to face humiliation,” said General Secretary of PFI, Anees Ahmad.

Leader of Milli Council, Dr Manzoor Alam, said, “The Hathras tragedy is extremely shameful. What makes it even more disgraceful is the ploy created by the UP Government to protect the perpetrators of the gangrape. This shameful theory is grave injustice with the family of the victim.”

National Secretary of SDPI H, Abdul Hameed, said, “The arrests of journalists and social activists in UP is highly deplorable and shameful. Uttar Pradesh under Yogi Adityanath is a real example of dictatorship.”

Others who have condemned the gang-rape and murder of a young Dalit girl include renowned scholar Khalid Rasheed Firangi Mehli, President of Jamiatul Ulema-e-Hind; Maulana Syed Arshad Madani, General Secretary of All India Muslim Personal Law Board; Maulana Wali Rehmani and Muslim Ittihadul Muslimeen’s President and MP Barrister, Asaduddin Owaisi.

Press Club of India and Kerala Journalist Association have condemned the arrest of Kappan.
Several political commentators have said that this is not the first time Muslims being targeted and blamed for a crime with which they have nothing to do.

The serious question, however, is whether the Supreme Court of India will take notice of this brazen misuse of power by a notoriously known Islamophobe Chief Minister or will let these Muslims languish in jails as has been the case with the youths arrested during the protests against the anti-citizenship act and several other cases before that.

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