A fact-finding report, prepared after its recent visit to Hathras, has said that ever since the gruesome grangrape incident in Uttar Pradesh on September 14, the victim’s family has had to fight its “battle amidst feudal-casteist environs and politics” in which it is being forced to operate. Worse, hurdles were created for those who seeking to give a supporting hand the family. The victim (identified by the team as Dasya), died in a Delhi hospital a fortnight later.
The team, under the banner of the civil society network National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), included NAPM convener Medha Patkar, academic and political activist Sandeep Pandey, Khudai Khitmadtar convener Faisal Khan, Supreme Court advocate Ehtesham Hashmi, and Delhi Solidarity Group representatives Joe Athialy and Amit Kumar.
The team, which met the family members of Dasya, belonging to the Dalit Valimiki community, found that accused are from the influential Thakur caste, which dominated in the village, Bulgarhi, was receiving support from powerful circles. Thus, on visiting the village at around 1 pm on October 9, the team members had to not just “pass through the police cordon and barricades”, but were stopped and told that no “more than five members can go together to meet the victim’s family.”
While the team was allowed in after writing applications addressed to the sub-divisional magistrate in a two team of two 5 and 4, it was witness to a second team, consisting of “saffron turban clad Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha activists” with posters stuck on their vehicles with the message written that they were there only to meet the ‘victim’ Thakur family.
“They were about ten to twelve people. They argued with police to go together and after much debate they were allowed to go together inside the village”, the report said.
According to the report, Bulgarhi, a village with more than 600 families, and just about 15 Dalit families, which has experienced “a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over decades”. Thus, Dasya’s family was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s government in 1990s. “However, till today, they are in physical possession of only three and half bighas while the rest is apparently encroached upon by some Brahmin family”, it added.
Pointing towards how, after the gangrape, Dasya was brought to the Balga Hospital in an unconscious state, the report said, “The doctors were not briefed by police nor did any policeman or official did any investigation as per all the family members, Dasya’s mother, brother, father, sister-in-law (bhabhi) and bhabhi’s brother”, which is “absolutely necessary under section 375 of IPC.”
“Almost nothing happened in 24 hours and she was shifted to an Aligarh hospital, when she was still almost unconscious. Her tongue was bitten and broken, not allowing her to speak a word. It was in the Aligarh hospital, the relatives heard, the doctors exclaiming that they didn’t know from where had the case been brought to them and for what”, the report said.
In fact, according to the report, at Aligarh, “the family since the beginning felt that the doctors and employees were under enormous pressure.”, However, “they did give basic treatment”, which led to Dasya becoming “a little consciousness for some time after a day or two and narrated her story to her mother, taking names of the four culprits, referring to rape and brutal assault.”
The report said, only when the family members, frustrated at the way things were going on, decided to speak out, and called the doctors, sisters, and relative of other patients present in the ward that the “reality came into the public domain.” This happened when “the whole systemic force was active around them with no space to manoeuvre, nor much support.”
Thus, the doctors at Aligarh, “who must have checked her whole body, didn’t examine anything related to sexual assault, nor did they enquire with her family till she herself brought out the truth.
“This passage, rather wastage, of time could be deliberate since late examination couldn’t ever prove rape. The intention obviously could be to miss or lose evidence forever”, the report alleged. The result was, if the medico legal case report mentions penetration of vagina by penis, while the report from the forensic department “rules out this possibility.” Thakur supporters of accused were 10 to 12 people. They argued with police to go together. They were allowed to go together inside the villageA similar treatment continued with Dasya’s family after she was shifted to Delhi, and admitted to the Safdarjung hospital. Here, said the report, Dasya family was told she was in ICU, “but there was no one to explain them, console them and they didn’t hear about the police investigation while they were much harassed, with questions asked; with no answers given to their queries.”
In fact, said the report, “The family remembered how Dasya’s father was called to the district magistrate in Hathras and questioned about the incidence. More than listening to his replies, an unclear message given to him on the very next day of the incidence that he and the family should convey to all about their being satisfied with the enquiry and the treatment both. This itself conveys the state was preparing to suppress the truth and close the case forever.”
“At the Safdarjung hospital, when Dasya succumbed to her injuries, all the family members sitting outside were simply informed by the police and made to face utter distress, grief and pain. Their consent was sought for post mortem process, but nothing else was shared”, the report said, adding, they were only called to show the body put inside the mortuary.“None realised that the body in the hands of the administration, wherever stored, was unsafe”, the report said, adding, “The shocking news a few hours later was that the police had taken away the body for cremation, without seeking their consent or opinion. The police sent the family in a van to Hathras but stopped the vehicle away from the cremation ground. The women vehemently cried and tried to stop and knock at the police vans but in vain.”
Hurdles were put on those who tried to support the family. While it has been widely reported how Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi were sought to be stopped from visiting Hathras, Dalit community leaders have had to face a worse ordeal.
Thus, the report said, Shyoraj Jivan, a staunch defender of Dalit rights and a leading activist from Valmiki community to which the Dalit family belonga, came to not just meet, console and give immediate support, but also to be active in the long-term legal battle.
Jivan got furious to hear the story and the history, the report said, adding, he spoke out in anguish and anger and made a statement to some media in the same mood that if anyone happens to look at Dalit girls with wrong intention, his eyes would be popped out.
This made the Uttar Pradesh police arrest him, and is still in jail, and Dasya’s family members “feel that their only supporter from Valmiki community, to which they belong, is kept away as a conspiracy.”
Yet another supporter, Dr Jyoti Bansal, an Ambedkarite, who reached out to Hathras and console as well as strengthen Dasya’s family’s to stand up and fight for justice, was declared a Naxalite. The report quotes Dasya’s bhabhi as telling the NAPM team: “When she spoke to Babuji (father), he felt highly consoled. We could find him interacting with her and coming out of depression to an extent. We, therefore, requested her to stay back and she did.”
The babhi added, Dr Bansal “stayed for the second night on our insistence and changed the atmosphere in the hours, in spite of a large police force surrounding us for 24×7 and outsiders continuing to visit and question. When these are the facts, we feel sad that she is blamed as a Naxal.”