All you Need to know about the Hathras Case

What is Hathras Case all about?

On 14 September 2020, four upper caste men allegedly gang-raped a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh, India. After fighting for her life for two weeks, she died in a Delhi hospital.The victim's brother claimed that no arrests were made in the first 10 days after the incident took place. After her death, the victim was forcibly cremated by the police without the consent of her family, a claim denied by the police.

The case and its subsequent handling has received widespread media attention and condemnation from across the country, and was the subject of protests against the Yogi Adityanath government by activists and opposition.

The TimeLine of the case

  • The incident took place on 14 September 2020, when the victim, a 19-year-old Dalit woman went to a farm to collect cattle fodder. The men dragged her away by dupatta around her neck injuring her spinal cord in the process. The four alleged rapists belong to the Thakur caste. The violence left her paralyzed with a severe spinal cord injury. The perpetrators had tried to strangulate the girl as she resisted their rape attempt. Her cries were heard by her mother who came to the spot to find her lying down in the farm. She was at first taken to the Chand Pa police station, where the police rejected her claims and, according to the family, humiliated them.

  • The police registered a complaint only on 20 September. Police were able to record the victim's statement on 22 September.

  • The victim was initially admitted to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Aligarh 15 days before her death. She was later shifted to the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi after her condition worsened. According to the police, the victim had been strangled with her dupatta. She died on 29 September 2020.


Mother of the victim said that Sandeep and Luv Kush had been harassing her and the victim for months. The autopsy noted that the victim died by "injury to the cervical spine by blunt-force trauma," and the attempt to strangle her was not the cause of death. The final post-mortem report also refers to "old tears in private parts, but no rape."


Cremation

The victim was cremated on the night at about 2:00 am of 29 September 2020 by Uttar Pradesh Police without the consent or knowledge of the victim's family. The brother of the victim alleged that it was done without family's consent and that they were locked up in their house. He also alleged that petrol was used for cremation. However Prashant Kumar, ADG (law and order), said that the family's consent was taken.

The forced cremation led the Allahabad High Court to take suo moto cognizance. The bench also asked the victim's family, the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police to appear before it. The bench added, "The incidents which took place after the death of the victim on 29.09.2020 leading up to her cremation, as alleged, have shocked our conscience".


















Police and administration

When the news broke out initially through social media, Agra Police, Hathras District Magistrate, and UP's Information & Public Relations called it "fake news". Later, a senior UP Police officer claimed that no sperm was found in samples as per forensic report and that some people had "twisted" the incident to stir "caste-based tension." The officer also said that the forensic report revealed that the victim was not raped.

However, critics have alleged this evidence is unreliable, citing guidelines that state swabs to test for sperm should only be taken if the assault might have occurred in the previous three days. After three to four days, swabs should be taken to test only for semen, not for sperm. Kumar also stated that the forensic report had found "no semen or semen excretion"; a retired officer quoted by the BBC criticized that "Police officers should not jump to conclusions. The presence or absence of semen by itself does not prove rape. We need a lot of other circumstantial and other evidence."

The family alleged that they were faced pressure from the administration. A video emerged in which the Hathras District Magistrate is seen pressuring the family into changing their statement. He could be heard saying "Don’t ruin your credibility. These media people will leave in a couple of days. Half have already left, the rest will leave in 2-3 days. We are the ones standing with you. Now it depends on you if you want to keep changing your testimony….".

On 3 October, the state government suspended five police officers including the Superintendent of Police.

The Uttar Pradesh government employed Concept PR, a Mumbai public relations firm. The PR firm allegedly sent out press releases (on behalf of the government) stating that the Hathras teenager was not raped. The press releases also alluded to a conspiracy to push the state of Uttar Pradesh into a caste turmoil.

On 4 October, Yogi Adityanath recommended CBI probe.

Hathras police have arrested the four accused — Sandip, Ramu, Lavkush and Ravi — on charges of attempt to murder, gang rape and violations of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. One of the accused, Ravi, and his father had been arrested 15-20 years back for allegedly assaulting the victim's grandfather. The victim's brother claimed that no arrest was made in the first 10 days of the incident.

SSP Vikrant Vir had transferred the SHO of Chandpa police station to police lines for failing to promptly act in the case. The State government, Yogi Adityanath and district administration announced a compensation of ₹25 lakh to the victim's family and a junior assistant job for a family member. Apart from this, the family will also be allotted a house in Hathras under State Urban Development Agency (SUDA) scheme.


















The Current Status

The case and its subsequent handling has received widespread media attention and condemnation from across the country, and was the subject of protests against the Yogi Adityanath government by activists and opposition.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi were accosted and detained by police in the state of Uttar Pradesh as they attempted to make their way to the village of the victim on foot after their vehicles had been stopped by officers on the motorway.

According to some media reports, a group calling itself "Rashtriya Savarna Parishad" came out in support of the accused. The involvement of the police was also implicitly found in various media reports.

Another media report stated that an outfit called 'National Sawarna Council' visited the Superintendent of Police and filed a memorandum alleging the family of the victim girl to be involved in implication of the innocent people.

A day after the Police forcibly cremated the body of the rape victim, Chandrashekhar Azad the president of Bhim Army (a Dalit-rights organisation based in Uttar Pradesh) was placed under house arrest for staging a protest against the government demanding justice for the victim.

On 3 October 2020, Indian National Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the victim's family. This was dismissed by BJP as a "political stunt".

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded execution of the accused.

Updates today

FIR against Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad, booked for violation of Section 144

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, who on Sunday visited the family of the victim in Hathras, has been booked for violating Section 144. Along with Chandrashekhar Azad, 400 others have also been booked by the UP Police.

In a meeting held outside the house of a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA in Hathras, scores of people defended the accused in the alleged gangrape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman and demanded registration of an FIR against her family members.

Heavy police force was deployed in the vicinity of former BJP MLA Rajvir Singh Pehalvan's residence, located around 8-9 kilometres from the victim's village.

One of the organisers of the meeting and Pehalvan's son Manveer Singh denied that the gathering comprised members from the upper castes and said they were from "different sections of society".

 "The entire scenario has been created to blame the government. The accused persons are in favour of any type of inquiry. But the victims are changing their stand every now and then. 


















They do not want a narco test or a CBI probe. Now they want other kinds of inquiries," Manveer Singh said.

He said an FIR should be registered against the complainants in the Hathras case.

"Our demand is that a case should be filed against those people who had filed the case in the first instance," Manveer Singh said.

Manveer Singh also said that various legal options were being explored to defend the accused in the case. He asserted that the arrest of some of the accused persons from their homes was proof of their innocence.

He also alleged that the Congress and the Samajwadi Party were trying to influence the victim's family as they wanted to the issue to "linger on".


The meeting assumes significance as it was held a day after Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra visited the victim's house and met her family members at a village in Hathras district, and the recommendation of a CBI probe by UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath.