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India: Gang rape victim’s death in UP causes outrage

30th Sep 2020
India: Gang rape victim’s death in UP causes outrage

By Cheena Kapoor

 

UTTARAKHAND, India (AA): A 19-year-old gang rape victim succumbed to her injuries at a Delhi hospital after battling for life for two weeks.

The Dalit woman [a depressed caste in India] was tortured and gang-raped by four men from the upper caste at her village in Hathras district of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Sept. 14.

With her tongue chopped off and severe injuries in her spinal cord, the young victim was first admitted to a nearby hospital and later shifted to Safdarjung Hospital, a government-run tertiary care hospital, in Delhi a couple of days ago.

The news of the victim’s death shocked everyone with activists and ministers demanding justice on social media.

“The gang rape and torture victim breathed her last today. My tribute to her. This current government is totally insensitive to the crimes against women,” Akhilesh Yadav, former chief minister of the state, wrote on Twitter.

Another former chief minister of the state, Mayawati, also tweeted that the government should take strict actions against the accused and prosecute them in fast-track courts.

“We demand justice for our daughter and request the government to hang the culprits,” said Om Prakash, father of the victim.

He further added that the victim had gone to the nearby fields with her mother and brother when the accused grabbed and dragged her.

All four suspects have been arrested by the local police. The key accused – Sandeep — was arrested five days after the incident on the victim’s brother’s complaint. Another three were arrested after the victim’s statement on Sept. 22.

The rape victim was cremated by policemen last night, allegedly as her family and relatives were locked up in their homes. A disturbing sequence of events captured in overnight visuals shows the family arguing with cops, female relatives throwing themselves on the hood of the ambulance carrying the body and a mother weeping helplessly as cops insist on taking her daughter straight to cremation, without allowing a last look, according to NDTV.

The woman’s body was taken to her village in Hathras, about 200 km from Delhi, after midnight. As her family and villagers suspected the UP police wanted to complete the last rites right then, in the middle of the night, they insisted that this was “against their tradition”; the woman’s father pleaded with the police to be allowed to take her home and cremate her in the morning.

“We wanted the last rites to be performed according to the Hindu traditions. Despite our protests, the cremation was performed. They took the body forcefully. We couldn’t see our daughter’s face for the last time,” the woman’s father told NDTV.

According to the family, the police had at first accused the woman of lying about her injuries. The police had initially registered an attempted murder case but added rape charges only after the woman’s formal statement a week after the incident, when she was able to speak. Yesterday, a senior officer said rape had not been confirmed and they were waiting for a forensic report.

Every 15 minutes on average, a woman in India is reported raped, according to 2018 government data released this year.

“There is next to no protection for women. Criminals are openly committing crimes,” Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a leader of the opposition Congress party, said on Twitter.

The case is being compared to the Dec. 16, 2012 bus rape case in which a 23-year-old girl was brutally raped in a moving bus. The case had triggered worldwide criticism regarding women’s safety in India.

[Map of India By US State Government/Public Domain]

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