The alleged gang-rape and murder case of a 19-year-old Dalit girl from Uttar Pradesh's Hathras has now taken an unexpected turn, with a phone call between an India Today journalist and the victim's brother being 'tapped' and leaked to certain sections of the media.
In the little over 16-minute audio footage which is doing the rounds on social media and has been cited by some news reports, the journalist is trying to convince the victim's brother to send her a video statement of the victim's father saying that the administration is exerting undue pressure upon him and the family. “It will only take five minutes. Quickly make the video and send it to me only,” she can be heard saying. Just to clarify, India Today has not denied the existence of this conversation. As a statement released by them acknowledges, a conversation between the two had been "leaked on social media".
Now, many on social media as well as certain media channels are accusing the journalist of coaxing a very specific statement from the victim's father. However, the journalist in question has pointed out that the video of the father saying he was being pressured by government officials and demanding a CBI probe into the matter, had already gone viral and was even tweeted by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
“But we are not satisfied with this. My daughter’s case should be probed by the CBI and monitored by a Supreme Court judge. We are under pressure from officials and confined to our home while the media has also been disallowed from meeting us,” the victim's father said in a purported video.
The journalist, who has been reporting from the ground since the beginning, has also been accused of giving false information to the victim's brother that there is an attempt being made to blame the death of the sister on her family.
Again, the journalist is not giving entirely fabricated details here.
Former BJP MLA Rajveer Singh Pehlwan did give a shocking statement, claiming that the victim's mother and brothers killed her.
Meanwhile, everything aside, it remains a matter of contention as to how and why was the call between a journalist and the victim's brother 'tapped' and then leaked.
India Today has issued a statement, standing with their journalist, and asking why the conversation was taped in the first place. "India Today first asks why was the telephone of our reporter, who was covering the Hathras murder, being tapped? If it was Sandeep's phone (victim's brother) that was being tapped, then the government needs to answer why are the phones of the grieving victim's family under surveillance being tapped. And under what provision of law where the phones tapped and call recordings leaked by officials who had access to these recordings," the statement reads.
Citing the same, Priyanka Gandhi, has lashed out at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and demanded his resignation. ".@myogiadityanath RESIGN. You have no moral right to continue as Chief Minister of UP," she tweeted.
Besides, the Congress General Secretary also asked what difference suspending "some pawns" would make. She was referring to the suspension of Hathras SP and four other policemen over the case. "On whose order Hathras victim, her family, was made to suffer. The phone records of Hathras DM and SP should be made public. The chief minister should not back off from his responsibility," she said in a tweet in Hindi.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday will again go and try to meet the victim's family "to hear their grievances and demand justice for the victim". On Thursday, they were detained as they headed to Hathras to meet the family. Rahul Gandhi also alleged that he was pushed to the ground and lathi-charged.
“Congress MPs under the leadership of former Congress President Shri. Rahul Gandhi will go to Hathras today afternoon to meet the grieving family of the 19-year-old daughter of Uttar Pradesh, who was brutally assaulted, murdered and the body cremated surreptitiously in the middle of night by Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government,” the party said in a statement on Saturday morning.