Author: -Aradhaya Singh
“ Don’t be ashamed of your story it will inspire others”
The world today is changing but unfortunately, sexual assault, rapes, sexual harassment, molestations, etc. are still happening every single day in our country, India. It was estimated that rape accounts for about 12% of all crimes against women in our country. India’s average rate of reported rape cases is about 6.3 per 100,000 of the population. But the problem with rape cases is that about 99% of the cases of sexual violence go unreported which makes it difficult to estimate the actual number of rape cases in our country. People are beginning to talk about it more but it is still not reaching a point where there is a solution. Every day in India rape cases is increasing. Another horrific gang-rape incident in Hathras happened in September which had led the nation to remember Nirbhaya’s rape case again and the end of inhumanity can also be seen. This makes it horrible for a woman to live in such an environment where she can’t even breathe by her choice. But the question arises that why should a woman die to get justice? Why strict laws should be made to end this Rape culture? Has anything changed since the Nirbhaya case, since the Kathua rape case, since the gang rape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad? The answer to this question is a big no.
Facts of the case :
It was 14th September 2020 the black day and which had shocked the nation and also triggered a nationwide uproar and made us all remember the chilling memories of the Nirbhaya case when a 19-year-old Dalit girl from Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras was strangulated and gang-raped as claimed by family members by four men when she was working with her mother in the field.
After that, her brother returned home with a bundle of grass while she remained in the field with her mother. The duo of mother and daughter were at some distance in the field. After sometimes the mother realized after some time that the victim was missing. The mother went looking for her and found her in an unconscious state. Further, it was claimed by the family that four to five people attacked her from behind, gagged her with her dupatta, and dragged her to a bajra field where they gang-raped her. Her neck was grievously injured.
After that, she was made to admitted to Aligarh Muslim University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and hospital. Then she was referred and was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi on 28th September 2020 and one day later that is on 29th September 2020 she died and lost her life.
After all this, the accused were arrested who had allegedly tried to strangle the girl to death as she had resisted their attempt to rape her and was made to succumb to injuries.
Police action over the case :
The Uttar Pradesh police denied the allegations put by the victim’s family and instead of that they were proactive in helping the family. They also cited the arrest of the four accused, namely Sandip, Ramu, Lavkush, and Ravi for the crime as evidence of their satisfaction.
It was also claimed by the police that no sexual assault or rape was done with the victim. Also, the police personnel said that the news which came on social media handles that the woman’s tongue being cut was wrong as reports presented by the forensic experts had not mentioned that and also she was strangled and received injuries on the bone of the neck which led to all complications and became the reason for her death.
Naming a rape victim – a crime
The death of the 19-year-old Dalit girl who stated that she was gang-raped on 14th September 2020 became a matter of discussion on social media on the day she died. Twitter users trended hashtags like #Hathras and #JusticeFor*******.
Several celebrities like which included Virat Kohli, Kangana Ranaut, Manoj Tiwari, Suresh Raina, Sophie Chaudhary, along with politicians and commentators like Tehseen Poonawalla, Danasari Anasuya, Vivek Bansal, Prithi Gandhi, and others ended up publicly naming the victim while using the hashtag.
While visiting Aligarh’s Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College, Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Raavan had also posted a video of the victim inside the ICU. The victim’s face was visible in the video and had not been blurred before being posted on social media.
Apart from these individuals mentioned above several media organizations like The Times of India, News18, Dainik Jagran and TV9Bharatvarsh.com and India.com have also revealed the victim’s identity while posting web stories on the hashtag and this had become a trend after her death.
The question arises here that do people know that naming a rape victim is also a crime? The answer is that they don’t know.
To support the above statement a case of Nipun Saxena vs Union of India & Ors [W.P. (C) No 565 2012] can be referred here. This case was decided by a two judges bench which consisted of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta on 11th December 2018. It was said that under no circumstances can the media reveal the identity of a victim of sexual crimes. The further court also clarified that their reference to the term ‘media’ includes press, electronic and social media.
Midnight cremation – An outrage created :
The midnight cremation of the victim created an outrage in the whole country. The family of the victim accused the police personnel by saying that the victim’s body was cremated without their consent at midnight soon after her death.
In this case, the victim’s dying declaration was not considered important and not had much value.
The reason for cremating her at midnight as said by the state government of Uttar Pradesh was that they wanted to avoid violence and it is for this reason that the members of the family and relatives could not participate in the victim’s last rite ceremonies.
This shows that when alive, the victim’s body was brutalized by four men and after her death, by an indifferent state.
After looking at all this the Uttar Pradesh government set up Special Investigation Team (SIT) after this case. The Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh talked to the family through video conferencing and announce compensation of 25 lakh rupees and a government job to the kin of the deceased.
The Allahabad High court has pulled up the Uttar Pradesh government over the midnight cremation of the Hathras gang-rape victim without her family’s consent and said that the action amounts to “infringement of human rights”.
On 6th October 2020 to avoid violence the Uttar Pradesh government in the Supreme Court in an affidavit stated that the cremation of a girl was done at 2:30 am.
What are the issues made by the people and media?
This case has so many folds into it and this is the first controversial rape and murder case, it is for what reason that is yet to be investigated by the police and still in process.
The other angle which was shown in the media and was a belief of people that this was a revenge of upper caste to the lower caste people, as the victim was a Dalit girl while the accused were of upper caste. There is still a toxic mentality in the minds of people about caste and creed. Why always the upper caste blamed? Why always they suffer? Although we say daily that India is developing but there is still the thinking that business is there between the upper and lower castes.
The other controversy related to this was that local police did not support and denied filing the FIR. But it was found that it was only the police who made her admitted to the hospital.
Bizarre of politics :
This case of gang rape as claimed by the family members of the victim and murder made an opportunity for the politicians to do their bad politics over this case. Various politicians from all over India had put their views and each one of them had blamed the government of Uttar Pradesh for not controlling the crime against women in Uttar Pradesh. But this is not true as not only the government of Uttar Pradesh was responsible but also others. Let us see the views put by the politicians over this case. Some of them are :
The victim was a Dalit and the attackers reportedly belonged to the so-called upper caste. The news of her death two weeks after the gang rape and fatal assault led to a protest by Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad Raavan of the Bhim Army.
The Bhim Army supporters blocked roads in Uttar Pradesh for hours. Social media is witnessing an outpour of anger.
A local political outfit, Azad Samaj Party, held a demonstration in Aligarh alleging dilly-dallying on part of the administration in making the arrests and shifting the victim to a better healthcare facility in New Delhi.
Soon, bigger political parties including the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and the Samajwadi Party (SP) stepped up their campaign against the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra targeted Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the Hathras incident. “Chief Minister is responsible for the safety of women in the state… The killers should get the severest possible punishment,” Priyanka Gandhi wrote on Twitter.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav said the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has become “insensitive” leaving no hope for the people. Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, the BSP chief, demanded that the case be heard by a fast track court. She also sought “all possible support” from the victim’s family.
Further timeline :
On 1st October section, 144 was imposed in Boolghari village and the victims’ brother informed them that they were under strict surveillance, even media was not permitted to enter the village.
Sandeep, the first to be arrested, wrote a letter to the Police seeking justice. In the letter, he mentioned that he was the friend of the victim and they all are been framed. On 8th October 2020, Sandeep added that he used to talk to the victim on phone. Uttar Pradesh Police recovered 104 phone calls between Sandeep and the victim’s brother during March. He also mentioned in the letter that the victim’s mother and brother used to torture her and indicated that this was the case of “Honor Killing.”
While on 11th October the central bureau of investigation (CBI) took over the case by registering FIR under the section of Gang rape and murder in IPC also SC and ST (Prevention) Act was taken.
The District Magistrate (DM) in court changed the statement of cremation being done at 2:30 am on 12th October 2020. Also, the narco test and polygraph test were ordered to be done by the police personnel.
Further CBI collected evidence from the place of cremation and also reached the victim’s house.
On 20th October Sandeep released a report, this crime was as “tradition against women”
A week later that is on the 27th October 2020 hearing the petition Supreme Court said, Allahabad High Court should monitor the case along with CBI Probe and must keep daily updates. The apex court also ordered Allahabad High Court to provide CRPF security to the victim’s family and witness considering their security.
Last but not least it can be concluded that whatever the history between the victim, her family, or the accused is yet to investigate but no law or rivalry permits the rapist to gang rape and brutally murder a girl. Further, if we look at the whole matter, as claimed by the accused that the brother and mother of the victim used to torture her. If the claim is proved correct the strict actions should be taken against the brother and mother of the victim.
The government should also take appropriate action against those police officers who without not having any right and authority did the cremation of the victim without her family members which is unconstitutional as per Hindu Law. And also, the central government should take all measures to provide safety to women of the country.