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The alleged rape and assault of a girl in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh resulting in her death and a rushed cremation has sparked anger across the Nation. This matter first came to light on Hindi daily Jagran on the 15th of September. The incident occurred on 14 September 2020, at around 9:30 am when the victim in question, a 19-year-old Dalit lady went to the fields in Bhoolgarhi village of Hathras to gather cows feed. The fields they were working in are owned by upper-caste farmers. The victim and her mother often went there to collect grass for their animals. After some time, Gayatri could not see her daughter, who was working further away in the fields. She called out her name several times. When she didn’t hear an answer, she assumed that her daughter had gone home to drink water as it was an exceptionally hot and humid day. But when she was returning home, she saw one slipper belonging to her daughter lying upside down at the edge of the millet field.  A little ahead, she found another slipper and marks of a person being dragged into the millet fields. Overcome by sudden fear, she ran ahead only to find her daughter lying unconscious and naked.


Four men purportedly hauled her away by dupatta around her neck injuring her spinal cord in the process. The four upper-caste men accused of rape purportedly belong to the Thakur caste. The brutality left her paralysed with a serious spinal cord injury. The four men supposedly slashed her tongue. The culprits had attempted to strangulate the young lady as she resisted their rape attempt.


The victim reached the Chandpa police station along with her mother Gayatri and brother Rajesh. Recorded a statement before the police and lodged a complaint. Based on the complaint, local police filed an FIR against accused Sandeep under Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty). At around 11:45 am the Police referred her to the district hospital at Hathras. At around 12: 30 her condition worsened and the doctors at the district hospital referred her to the Aligarh Muslim University’s JN Medical College and Hospital. The victim was admitted at JN Medical College at around 4:30 pm as the police officials did not cooperate to shift her to JN Medical College.


Over the next week, the victim's condition worsened. On September 19th, the Victim's statement was recorded at JN Medical College. She names two attackers including Sandeep. Makes first explicit mention of molestation. On the basis of this statement, the police start action under Section 307 (attempt to murder), 354 (molestation) and atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Sandeep were arrested by police.


On 22nd September, the victim in her dying declaration before a magistrate (under section 164 (5A)(a) of CrPC) named three attackers -- Luvkush, Ravi and Ramu besides Sandeep. Accusing them of sexual assault. Police filed a case against all under charges of gangrape (under Section 376 (D) of IPC) along with an attempt to murder. Between September 22nd and 26th the remaining three accused were arrested. On September 28th, the victim's condition worsened and was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.


On 29th of September, a fortnight after the incident, the victim died at Safdarjung Hospital and the victim's body was taken to Bhoolgarhi. The Police informed that there were no signs of rape from initial medical reports. Following the death of the victim, IPC section 302 (murder) was also added. The family pleaded with the authorities to let them take the body home or even see their daughter’s face one last time but were lathi-charged instead and locked inside their home. On 30th September, at around 3:00 am, the victim’s body was forcibly cremated by authorities under orders from Hathras DM without any consent taken from the victim’s family. The hasty and forceful cremation is a violation of the victim’s right to dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution. This is supported by the cases of Pt. Parmanada Katara vs Union of India (1995) and Ramji Singh v. Uttar Pradesh (2009). The UP government on the same day set up a high-powered three-member SIT to investigate the matter.


On 1st of October, ADG Prashant Kumar told ANI News UP that the forensic reports that were awaited have been received and that the FSL report has found no sperm or semen in the samples collected from the victim’s body. He asserted that it concludes that there was no sexual assault, as was predicted from the post mortem report. The forensic report here is based on medical exam samples of the rape victim that were to be taken within 24 hours under Section 164A, Criminal Procedure Code, were taken 11 days later. The time-lapse between the alleged rape’s occurrence and the time of carrying out the medical examination renders these samples worthless. The state’s role behind this delay elicits investigation. Policing aside, seminal stains in a victim’s body are inessential to prove rape based on Uttar Pradesh v. Babulnath (1994).


On 2nd of October, the same day, the Chief Minister of UP directed the suspension of the SP, the DSP, the Inspector and some other officials, based on the preliminary investigation report. The UP Government also ordered Narco-Polygraph tests for the accused, the complainant and the police officials involved in the matter. On 4th October, the Chief Minister of UP recommended CBI probe but the victim’s family was not in favour of the CBI investigation and wanted a judicial probe to be conducted in the case.


On 7th of October, The UP government has given an additional 10 days to the three-member SIT investigating the alleged gang rape. The special investigation team, constituted on September 30 and led by Home Secretary Bhagwan Swarup, was initially given seven days to submit its report.


On the same day the Uttar Pradesh police also booked journalist Siddique Kappan from Kerala and three others who were identified as Ateeq-ur-Rehman, a research scholar from Muzaffarnagar; Masood Ahmed, also a research scholar from Bahraich and Alam, the driver of the car who held Rampur, were arrested on their way to Hathras, for sedition and other charges. An FIR was lodged against them at the Mant police station charging them under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code, Sections 14 and 17 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967; Sections 65, 72 and 76 of the Information Technology Act, for promoting enmity between groups and outraging religious feelings. Section 17 of the UAPA deals with raising funds for terrorist acts.


On the 8th of October, the Allahabad High Court dismissed a petition filed on 7th October by Mr Mehmood Pracha along with two other counsel on behalf of the victim’s family claiming that the victim’s family has appointed him as their counsel for which he has acquired the consent of the victim’s family over a WhatsApp message. The Court dismissed the plea stating that:

  • The petition was filed without obtaining Vakalatnama of the family members. No Vakalatnama was ever executed by Surender Kumar in favour of Advocate Mehmood Pracha or any of the two Advocates through whom the plea was moved.
  • When the victim's family was informed about filing of the present petition, they have categorically stated that they have not authorized anyone to file such petition;
  • The 'so-called' screenshot of the WhatsApp message engaging the counsel was nothing but a forwarded message of which details were not available. The message merely stated that "in the case of deceased victim-girl, through Akhil Bharatiya Valmiki Mahapanchayat, Mr Mehmood Pracha is being appointed as Counsel." Such a message was vague and did not make it clear as to who wanted to appoint whom and further in which case such an alleged appointment was being made;


On 11th of October, The Central Bureau of Investigation has taken over the probe into the alleged gang rape and assault. The case has been handed over to the Ghaziabad unit of the agency. A team comprising forensic experts will soon be sent to the spot where the incident took place. The CBI has registered a fresh FIR against one of the accused.


In the latest development as of 14th of October, ahead of the hearing of the alleged Hathras gang rape case, the Uttar Pradesh Government has filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court giving details of the security provided to the witnesses and family members of the deceased victim. It also requested the Court to allow the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the matter under the supervision of the apex court in a time-bound manner. The UP government also requested the top court to direct the CBI to submit fortnightly status reports to the state government so that the same can be filed in the Supreme Court through the DGP, UP.