NFIW, PMS, ANHAD
6 October 2020
A delegation comprising Annie Raja, National General Secretary NFIW, Poonam Kaushik, General Secretary Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan and Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD visited Gulgarhi village in Hathras district on October 5, 2020 and spent 4 hours there.
We met and had detailed interaction with eight family members of the deceased Dalit girl who was allegedly raped and strangulated on September 14 and later died in Safdarjung Hospital early morning on September 29, 2020.
The area is totally cordoned off; there is a huge police presence both on the main road which leads to the village as well as inside the village, through the long road leading to home of the deceased girl child. It stretches almost two kilometers, with long patches with no police presence. In two places we heard men from the dominant community giving their version to media; the version which is now being propagated by them as well as by the state apparatus.
Three of us conveyed our condolences to the parents and family members and sat down to share their grief. We extended our solidarity to their struggle to get justice for their dead child.
We spoke at length to the deceased’s sister in law, her sisters, the girl’s mother, two brothers, her father and his sisters and brother. His brother we later met at Aligarh.
Following this we went to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College & Hospital in Aligarh and also visited some people in the city who knew about the case. We spoke to several doctors and other staff who came in contact with the deceased during her treatment there.
Due to the atmosphere of fear and pressure from various quarters we are not naming the doctors, medical officers or other personnel with whom we interacted.
Long conversations with members of the family were accompanied by emotional outbursts and tears but on the whole were restrained. We present here a gist of what we gathered from these interactions.
Background, Incident, Treatment, Death, Cremation
- Uttar Pradesh has a population of about 23.7 crores. Dalits comprise more than a fifth of the state’s population, but remain most marginalized. India banned caste-based discrimination in 1955, but discriminatory attitudes against Dalits continue and they are among the most marginalized communities. According to the 66thround of the National Sample Survey Office, the proportion of rural Scheduled Caste (SC) households “self-employed in agriculture”, that is, having their own land, is only 17.1 per cent, compared with 39.4 per cent among rural households of the Socially Advanced Classes (SACs), There have been several attempts by various governments to provide land to Dalit families to help them become independent. Due to lack of political will, discrimination and corruption the land has not been given to all families only some have got small pieces of land.
- Bul Garhi in Hathras district is a Thakur caste dominant village with only 4-5 houses of Dalit families. It is situated 12km away from sub-district headquarter Hathras. Baghana is the gram panchayat and it comes under Chandpa police station. There are about 66 houses in Bul Garhi village and 504 people. The Thakur landlord community has been wanting the Dalit families to leave the village for quite some time and make it a ‘Thakur Only’ village. The land, which must have been given to the Dalit families as part of one of the government schemes must have irked them, though we couldn’t ascertain when the land was allotted to the family of the deceased girl. The girls and women of Dalit families face harassment on a regular basis when they go out. One of the accused had in fact tried several times in the past six months to harrass the deceased girl and as a result she had stopped going out alone.
- On 14 Sept, 2020 after finishing all the work at home, tending buffaloes, cooking and cleaning, which began at 5am , she went with her mother and brother around 9.30 in the morning to cut grass for the animals. They were cutting grass at some distance from each other. After some time the mother looked for her daughter and first thought probably she returned home. Suddenly she found her slipper lying ulta (upside down). She followed the trail and found her daughter lying in a field, with no clothes on her body. She found strangulation marks on her neck, her eyes were red and she couldn’t speak as due to the strangulation her tongue was clenched between teeth and had got cut (wounded). Mother was began screaming for help, saw a child and yelled to him to call her son from their home. She tried to cover her child with torn clothes lying around. Her distraught son arrived on the spot and with great difficulty they reached Chandpa police station to lodge a complaint. The girl was placed on an elevated structure. A complaint was lodged which took quite some time. The child was sent to Bagla Combined District Hospital, Aligarh Road, Hathras
- The Bagla Combined District Hospital after initial examination and first aid referred her to Jawaharlal Medical College in Aligarh. When she was brought to the Medical College her condition was critical therefore she was not able to give any statement. She had sustained many injuries apart from strangulation. There was hemorrhage in eyes due to strangulation, and she had sustained severe injuries on her neck and back, she was unable to breathe properly, suffering from quadriplegia (paralysis in all four limbs). She was referred to within the hospital to neurosurgery, forensic medicine, and ophthalmology, OBS & GYNAE. She was then admitted in HDU- High dependency Unit.
- On September 22, 2020 when she regained some consciousness and was able to speak, the chairman, department of neurosurgery, JLN Medical College, Aligarh asked for her dying declaration to be recorded in front of a magistrate. This is a norm for critical patients. A statement before the magistrate was recorded.
- Her statement under 161 CrPc was also recorded after which section 376D was added to the initial FIR in Hathras which was registered under307 IPC, 325 Sc/St atrocities act. The Additional SP’s video which was tweeted on Sept 26, 2020 by @HathrasPolice says that the ‘deceased was unable to give a statement at the time of filing the FIR’. When her statement was recorded by IO she named 4 people who raped her. Therefore 376 D has been added, all four have been arrested. No one is absconding and the case will be taken up in a fast track court. Link to the tweet: https://twitter.com/hathraspolice/status/1309859079112646656?s=20
- The MLC report under details of the act given by the patient states: orifice penetration: vagina, complete/attempted: complete, penetration by: penis. The provisional opinion of the doctor: On the basis of local examination I am of the opinion that there are signs of use of force however opinion regarding penetrative intercourse is reserved pending availability of FSL report.
- The FSL report says: 1. There are no sings suggestive of vaginal/anal intercourse. 2. There are evidences of physical assault (neck and back). The forensic examination was conducted on September 22, eight days after the incident. In cases of rape, according to government guidelines, the forensic samples should be collected within 72 hours of the incident. Sperms can’t survive after more than 90 hours.
- The deceased girls’ statement before the magistrate, which would be treated as the dying declaration of the victim is crucial in such cases.
- According to various doctors and other staff that we spoke to at the JNMC Hospital, Aligarh and various family members, there was tremendous pressure on the family by the local Hathras administration and the local BJP MP, who also visited the Aligarh hospital, to shift her to AIIMS, Delhi. Finally when family succumbed to the pressure and asked the JNMC hospital in Aligarh to shift her to Delhi, the JNMC referred her to AIIMS, but she was admitted to Safdarjung Hospital on September 28th, where she died early next morning. The police had informed the family that they had an ambulance ready to take her to Delhi.
- When the consent of the father was taken for postmortem, he was shown her face but apart from him no one was allowed to see her then or later.
- The family members claimed they had no papers except the copy of the first FIR, which was registered in Hathras, not even the death certificate.
- On September 29, 2020 at 2.25 am at a funeral ground in her village the police forcibly cremated her body against the wishes of the family. The family was not even allowed to see her face. The girls’ aunts pleaded, tried to stop the ambulance carrying her but the family members were badly roughed up and allegedly barricaded within their home after that.
- The family alleged that there was intimidation and delay at every step, and no support came from the police or administration. From the moment they took her to the Hathras police station to her forced cremation, they faced intimidation, threats, manhandling also allurement of money once the case became public. The family was particularly distraught at the atrocious manner in which way in which the police cremated her without allowing any of the family members to take a last look.
- A study to identify healing process and outcome of hymenal injuries was conducted by multicenter, retrospective project and it used photographs to document the healing process and outcome of hymenal trauma that was sustained by 239 prepubertal and pubertal girls. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6402926_Healing_of_Hymenal_Injuries_in_Prepubertal_and_Adolescent_Girls_A_Descriptive_Study
The objective of this study was to identify the healing process and outcome of hymenal injuries in prepubertal and adolescent girls. All 126 pubertal adolescents were sexual assault victims. The hymenal injuries healed at various rates and except for the deeper lacerations left no evidence of the previous trauma… The final “width” of a hymenal rim was dependent on the initial depth of the laceration. No scar tissue formation was observed in either group of girls. The hymenal injuries healed rapidly and except for the more extensive lacerations left no evidence of a previous injury. A swab collected after 8 days of the actual act would not have any evidence of the rape committed.
The New Narrative being Spun by UP State
- We note with grave concern and indignation that despite the deceased’s dying declaration and circumstantial evidence various members of the ruling party and members of the dominant caste have started building a narrative that the victim was not raped. The head of BJP IT cell tweeted a video of the girl, disclosing her identity which violates the law, in an attempt to say that she was not raped. Under the Indian Penal Code, disclosing the identity of a rape victim is a crime punishable by a jail term of up to two years. In the video, when the victim when asked why they strangulated you, she says because she was resisting ‘zabardasti’. ‘Zabardasti’ is used for sexual assault and this video is of the police station in Hathras. Such efforts of the government and by BJP in trying to shield the perpetrators are highly condemnable.
- The UP government has filed cases against those who organized protests against the brutal attack on the Dalit girl by men of high caste, and is now calling it an international conspiracy to malign the Yogi government and create caste riots in UP. Under the present government at the center and in UP, every act of dissent is now being termed as a conspiracy to malign BJP and its state governments. They have forgotten that it is every citizen’s right under the Constitution of India to raise his/her voice against injustice of any kind. We strongly condemn all such efforts whether presently in UP or in Delhi to term peaceful civil resistance as a conspiracy.
- Several opposition leaders have been assaulted by the local upper caste and even lathi charged by police, when they visited the village to meet the family of the deceased. We strongly condemn this.
The Delegation Demands that:
- Yogi Adityanath should be sacked from CM’s post for deteriorating condition of constitutional bodies and growing violence against women and especially Dalit women
- Time bound court supervised enquiry into the Hathras case
- We demand an enquiry into the diversionary narrative propaganda
- Ensure safety and security of life and livelihood of the family
- Suspension of the District Magistrate
- We demand an enquiry into the role of all authorities including public representative in denying justice.
- We demand that NHRC should investigate why all Dissent is being criminalised
- Strict implementation of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act
- Effective implementation of SC/ST Sub Pan and Component Plan with wide awareness and publicity about the schemes and programmes under this Act, for Dalit Community’s Development