The Hathras police have lodged an FIR against "unknown" persons for alleged attempt to trigger caste-based conflict, and invoked serious charges, including sedition, officials said on Monday. The development comes amid an undying controversy over the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman after she was allegedly gang-raped, and continuous protests and visits to her village by political leaders and activists.
The first information report (FIR) was lodged at the Chandpa police station on Sunday afternoon and names unknown as accused, according to police officials. The FIR mentions 19 charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The IPC sections include 124A (sedition), 505 (intending to cause public alarm and inducing someone to commit an offence against state or public tranquillity), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups). The police have also invoked section 67 (transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the IT Act, according to the FIR.
The Indian Express reported that the UP police have linked a website, which had information on how to protest safely and avoid the police, to the conspiracy. The site, justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.
The UP government's statements and facts related to the Hathras incident are being forged, manipulated and circulated through social media. Misleading content is being shared with forged logos of media houses, a police officer told PTI.
Some accused are circulating material that could trigger caste-based conflict and these are serious offences considering the current situation in the region, the officer said, adding the investigation is underway.
According to local officials, the Hathras police have so far registered around a dozen complaints under the IT Act related to the Dalit woman’s case and they are being probed by the Cyber Cell.
The Dalit teen had died of grievous injuries in a Delhi hospital on September 29, a fortnight after she was allegedly raped at her village by four upper-caste men. She was cremated in the early hours of September 30. While the family claimed the cremation was carried out against their wishes, the police said the last rights in the dead of the night were held "as per the wishes of the family".
The incidents have triggered a massive outrage across the country, bringing severe flak for the government of UP, which has now recommended a CBI probe into the whole episode.
(With PTI inputs)