THE UP government is stooping to new lows in its gross mishandling of the Hathras case. Even as the probe has been referred to the CBI, the state authorities are leaving no stone unturned to exert pressure on the victim’s family. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) has proposed a narco-polygraph test on the deceased Dalit woman’s kin to ascertain the truthfulness of their statements. Her outraged brother has rightly asserted that such a test should be conducted on the accused and the policemen who are trying to ‘twist the narrative’. The family members have also accused the District Magistrate of threatening them. The UP police, too, haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory. Citing a forensic report based on samples received over 10 days after the victim was hospitalised, the ADGP (Law and Order) jumped to the conclusion that there was no evidence of rape. He tried to pass off the case as a conspiracy to disturb communal harmony. Not surprisingly, the Hathras police have now lodged an FIR against unknown persons, invoking the sedition charge no less, for an attempt to trigger caste-based conflict.
The Yogi Adityanath dispensation has gone all out to keep mediapersons away from the scene of the gruesome crime. In a vicious assault on the freedom of the Press, some journalists’ phones have been tapped and their conversations leaked. The obvious motive is to divert attention away from the instant case. The meeting held outside a former BJP MLA’s house in Hathras on Sunday, during which the accused were defended and an FIR sought against the woman’s family, is another abhorrent ploy to turn the matter on its head.
Influential accused can go to any extent to intimidate the victim and her family, as witnessed in the 2017 Unnao rape case. The girl survived a car crash in which two of her aunts lost their lives, and her father died in judicial custody after being framed for illegal possession of firearms. Justice did eventually prevail as former BJP legislator Kuldeep Sengar was convicted and jailed for life. Attempts to arm-twist the Hathras victim’s family should also not go unpunished.