Our Correspondent/Lucknow: Just when the nation was putting the Nirbhaya tragedy behind it, a 19-year-old Dalit girl, who was brutally gang raped in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras district a fortnight ago by four men, succumbed to her debilitating injuries on Tuesday morning.
In almost a grisly replay, the accused had reportedly dragged her into the field and also tried to strangulate her; it inflicted injuries on her spinal cord and paralysed her limbs. Owing to lackadaisical response and official inertia, the gang rape FIR was not registered for days for mystifying reasons; also, inexplicably, top government officials shrugged it off as a "fake news" to suppress the gruesome incident!
On Tuesday evening, the victim's outraged family, sympathisers and activists converged at the Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi where she had been brought from Aligarh and demanded that they be informed of the whereabouts of her body. TV channels flashed visuals showing hundreds of people gathered around a black Scorpio SUV with UP number plates, in which a lone police officer is sitting. Amid the commotion, the police can be seen trying to control the situation with TV channels suggesting that the family of the deceased was being hustled into the SUV.
The family claimed that they were being forced to return to Hathras where the authorities wish to perform the last rites away from media glare. The family has refused to budge.
The teen was shifted to AIIMS in Delhi, after her condition showed no signs of improvement at Aligarh Muslim University's Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital.
The girl's medical report released by the Aligarh hospital confirms rape, strangulation and injury on spinal cord leading to paraplegia. She bit her tongue when her attackers were trying to strangle her. According to her brothers, even in her critical condition, all she wanted was to go home and had said it often in hospital.
Belated action came when Hathras police arrested four accused – all allegedly upper caste men. But the arrests may not be able to muzzle the groundswell that is building up with residents demanding speedy trial and death for the culprits.
The news of her death led to protests outside the hospital with the Bhim Army of Chandrashekhar Azad blocking roads for 10-15 minutes and protesters chanting "hang the rapists". On social media, there was an outpouring of grief and anger from politicians, celebrities and others.
While UP CM Yogi Adityanath, who doubles up as the Home Minister, and Women and Child Development Minister Swati Singh maintained a stupefying silence, the administration announced Rs 10 lakh compensation to the family of the victim.
The opposition Congress and the Samajwadi Party jumped into the furnace and criticised the government for its alleged inability to control law and order. As is becoming a monotonous ritual, they also held a day and candle light march.
In a virtual press conference, Congress legislator Aradhana Mishra Mona said, “The BJP Government has sacrificed another Dalit girl. She was brutally raped; she battled for life for two weeks but the government neither registered a case, nor provided her the best medical care; or else she would have been alive today. Rs 10 lakh compensation is merely a policy norm.”
The Congress has demanded a Rs50 lakh compensation and a thorough probe in the case by a sitting judge of the high court.