‘They threatened us, took away phones’: Kin of Hathras victim alleges police intimidation

The boy, a relative of the victim, alleged that the UP police had surrounded the village and street leading up to their house.
Hathras rape victim's relative says they were threatened by police
Hathras rape victim's relative says they were threatened by police
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A boy, who is supposedly related to the rape victim in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, has alleged that the Dalit woman’s family was being intimidated by the police and district officials. He alleged that the victim’s family is not being allowed to step out of their house or contact other people, including the media. On Friday, the boy spoke to the media, stating that he got away by running through the fields. 

The boy alleged that the UP police had surrounded the village and street leading up to their house, and even allegedly took away the phones of the family. He also told the media persons that the District Magistrate had allegedly kicked his ‘tauji’ (uncle) in the chest on Thursday. 

“They threatened us and took away her phones. My mother and bhabhi (sister-in-law) told me to go and get the media and to talk to them. I came by hiding and running in the fields. They are not letting anyone come [out]. My uncle wanted to go out and get the media, but the DM kicked him in the chest. He is unwell,” the boy said. 

In a video aired by the Manorama News, a man can be seen pulling down the boy’s face mask and soon pushing him away from the media persons. He is then seen scurrying away into the field. According to the Malayalam media report, the man who could be seen driving away the boy is a policeman, probably in mufti. 

According to reports, a video being circulated shows District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar saying, “Do not finish your credibility. These media people... some left today and tomorrow more will leave. Only we will be here with you. Ok? It is up to you whether you want to change your statement or not. We can also change.”

However, Laxkar has denied any ‘negative’ interaction. He said that he met the family to see their discontent and was focused on getting the accused hanged, and for the trial to happen in a fast track court. 

On September 14, the 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly raped when she and her mother were reportedly out in the field to pick up some firewood. She sustained grievous injuries, including fractured bones. As her condition started deteriorating, she was referred to Safdarjung Hospital, where she died on Tuesday, a fortnight after the incident. 

The incident caused widespread outrage, which grew further when the woman’s body was cremated by the police in the dead of night on Wednesday. The family was also allegedly kept away from attending the last rites, which was held in the wee hours of Wednesday, with the police lighting the funeral pyre. 

Videos that surfaced later showed the family members pleading with officials to allow them to take the woman’s body to their house one last time before the funeral.

After Congress, TMC members blocked

In another development, a delegation from All India Trinamool Congress was heckled and roughed up, allegedly by the Joint Magistrate 1.5 kilometres from the victim’s home. 

The delegation included MPs Derek O'Brien, Dr Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Pratima Mondal and Mamata Thakur (former MP).

"A delegation of Trinamool MPs have been stopped by UP Police from entering Hathras. The delegation had travelled about 200kms from Delhi. The Trinamool MPs were on their way to the village in Hathras, travelling separately, to express solidarity with the grieving family and convey their condolences," the party said in a statement.

 One of the MPs who was stopped said, "We are peacefully proceeding to Hathras to meet the family and pay our condolences. We are travelling individually and maintaining all protocols. We are not armed. Why are we stopped? What kind of jungle raj is this that elected MPs are prevented from meeting a grieving family."

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were on Thursday arrested by the Uttar Pradesh Police after they were stopped from marching towards Hathras to meet the family members of the Dalit woman allegedly raped by four men on September 14.

The Allahabad High Court has taken suo motu cognisance of the Hathras gangrape case. On Thursday, it directed Uttar Pradesh government's top officials and the police to appear before it on October 12

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