On observe to justice

With the CBI concluding that the 19-year-old Dalit girl of Hathras was gangraped and murdered by four men from

a dominant caste in September — contrary to the UP government’s view — the case is finally on the right track and there is hope for justice. The verdict leaves the government red-faced as it used all its might and dirty tricks to prove otherwise. When the grievously injured victim, in her dying statement from hospital, accused the four of this heinous crime, the state law enforcers would have done well to undertake a fair probe and punish the guilty. Instead, the authorities brazenly kept insisting that no rape had been committed. Stigmatised socially, too, the family was rendered a pariah in its own village for bringing a ‘bad name’ to the neighbourhood.

The grief-stricken family’s cries for a fair investigation were rebuffed and trampled upon. With the hurried and hushed cremation of the girl in the dead of night, against her family’s wishes, the state police had gone off on a tangent that smacked of burying the truth rather than getting to the bottom of the matter to nail the guilty. Giving the case the colour of ‘honour killing’, the girl’s brother was accused of murdering her for ‘befriending’ men from another caste. When voices of outrage against the blatant charges gathered momentum in the shape of protests and reports in both local and international media, the government sought to project them as a conspiracy to tarnish its image. It even sought to muffle the cries by the offer of ex gratia or a government job to the family.

Finally, rattled by the widespread condemnation of its handling of the Hathras case, the Yogi Adityanath government let the CBI investigate the case. Now, with charges of sexual assault confirmed, a fast-tracking of the case to bring out the truth is called for. A strong message of zero tolerance of attacks on girls will also tear into the misogynistic and patriarchal tendencies that are the root cause of gender crimes.

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