The spate of horrific crimes in Uttar Pradesh amid the COVID-19 pandemic has come as a double blow for people who are trying to pick up the threads of their life to ‘begin again’ after the prolonged coronavirus lockdown which has affected the livelihood of scores of people.
Over the past fortnight, dozens of rapes, gangrapes and murders have been reported from across the state which has alarmed the citizens and especially young women. Taking suo motu cognizance of such incidents, the National Commission for Human Rights on Monday served two notices to the Uttar Pradesh government – one for the horrific gangrape and murder of a minor in Lakhmipur Kheri and another over an incident in Kanpur wherein a cop allegedly asked a girl to dance first if she wanted to register a complaint of molestation.
The NHRC has forwarded a copy of the news item to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Jal Shakti which is the Nodal Ministry for the Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan, as the Lakhimpur Kheri incident happened when the girl had allegedly gone to relieve herself in a nearby field.
In the first case of a Dalit girl’s gangrape and murder, the NHRC notice states, “Reportedly the victim was tortured before being strangled to death. It is mentioned in the news report that there is a toilet in the victim’s house but it’s not functional. The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and DGP, Government of UP, calling for detailed reports in the matter within six weeks including disbursement of the statutory relief as per rules framed under provisions of the SC/ST (POA) Act to the family of the victim, action taken against the guilty and the status of the FIRs in the matter.”
The NHRC has also said, “The UP Chief Secretary is expected to sensitize the district authorities to create awareness that the toilets should not be constructed for mere fulfilment of the government records. They are to be actually made functional.”
The NHRC has also taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that an Inspector of Govind Nagar police Station, Kanpur asked a 16-year-old girl to dance before registering a FIR against a molester.
Meanwhile, the reports of horrific crimes in the state continue. More cases have come to light since Sunday, with another girl being gangraped and murdered in Gorakhpur.
While motormouth ministers in the state leave no opportunity to speak over frivolous issues, none have spoken a word against the rise in crimes or fast spreading infection. Over 5,000 new cases are now being reported every day in the state. Additionally, the health infrastructure also seems to be crumbling in the state capital, Lucknow. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 and have all the symptoms have been advised to stay at home due to scarcity of beds. Even symptomatic patients are not admitted to the hospitals.
Abhishek Yadav, a young teacher who recently tested positive along with his wife, rues, “I informed the coronavirus helpline number after testing positive. The health department called me up after five days, instead of 48 hours as per rules. All they did is to prescribe us some medicines over the phone.”