The body of a 19-year-old Dalit girl, who died in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday, was cremated at her native place in the wee hours of Wednesday after she was gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras on September 14.
She was first admitted to the J N Medical College Hospital in Aligarh with serious injuries. However, was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital on Monday after her condition showed no signs of improvement.
Meanwhile, the victim's family has alleged that the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night even though they wanted to bring her body home one last time.
“The ambulance is on the main road; police are not letting us take the body inside the house. They have switched on the lights of the cremation ground and are forcing us to perform her last rites right now. We don’t want to cremate her in the middle of the night; we want to take her home," the victim’s brother said at 1 am.
The victim was cremated at around 3 am. Speaking to the Indian Express, the brother said, “It appears that my sister has been cremated; the police are not telling us anything. We begged them to let us bring her body inside the house one last time, but they didn’t listen to us."
"Police have forcibly taken the body, and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police," the brother of the victim told PTI.
Another kin said the woman's father was accompanied by 30 to 40 people, mainly relatives and others from their neighbourhood, to the crematorium near Bool Garhi village, under Chandpa police station limits.
The victim's brother also said that the administration is putting them under a lot of pressure. "We don't trust the local police, there should be judicial investigation," he said. "We demand from state government that this matter be investigated and the culprits be hanged. We also want security," he added.
The local police, however, told PTI that the cremation was carried out "as per the wishes of the family". "We have talked to the victim's family members. The last rites of the victim have been performed keeping in view of peace situation here. Four accused have already been arrested. Police and administration will ensure that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice," Prem Prakash Meena, Hathras Joint Magistrate told ANI.
Hathras DM also denied the allegations of the family. "The allegations that funeral was conducted without family's consent are wrong. The father & brother gave their consent to conduct funeral at night. Family members were also present at funeral," he said.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Vikrant Veer refused that there was any “urgency” in the cremation process, reported Hindustan Times. He also claimed that the situation in the village is calm, but heavy police force has been deployed.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the gang-rape incident. The SIT comprises Chairman Secretary Home Bhagwan Swaroop and Chandraprakash, Deputy Inspector General of Police and Poonam, Commander in chief, Provincial Armed Constabulary.
"Culprits of Hathras gangrape incident will not be spared. An SIT has been formed to investigate the incident, the team will submit a report within next 7 days. To ensure swift justice, this case will be tried in a fast-track court," said the Chief Minister.
Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday spoke to Yogi Adityanath over the incident and said that strictest action should be taken against the culprits.