Thawar Chand Gehlot
Thawar Chand Gehlot

Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot on Friday refused to comment on the alleged forced cremation of a 19-year-old Dalit woman of Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, who died after being allegedly gang-raped and assaulted.

The woman was allegedly raped at a village in Hathras by four men on September 14. After her condition deteriorated, she was referred to the Delhi's Safdarjung hospital where she breathed her last on Tuesday.

She was cremated early on Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.

When asked about it, Gehlot told reporters, "I don't want to say anything about in which circumstances such incidents are taking place, in which circumstances (the media) is being stopped and in which circumstances the last rites were performed."

The Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, however, said that the Uttar Pradesh government has taken a serious cognisance of the incident and has decided to ensure that the accused are punished severely by the court.

"The law is taking its course. The Uttar Pradesh government has formed a special investigation team (SIT), which is investigating," he added.

When asked about the rising cases of rape in the country, he said, "Such incidents are taking places in many states. Rajasthan (ruled by the Congress) has witnessed more such cases than Uttar Pradesh."

Replying to a query over the alleged gang-rape in Khargone district of Madhya Pradesh recently, the minister, who hails from the state, said he did not have information about it.

"You (mediapersons) are telling me. I am going to gather information about it," he said.

He also said the three farm laws were in the interest of farmers. "But some political parties are opposing it as part of a conspiracy," he alleged.

Responding to a question about the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) pulling out of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), he said it would not impact the ruling dispensation.

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Free Press Journal