The Hathras question

Allahabad HC poser to DM hits the nail on the head

The Hathras question

Photo for representation only. - File photo

The question supposed to have been posed by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court to Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar has in it encapsulated the most disturbing aspects of the terrible tragedy that struck the helpless 19-year-old girl on September 14, when she was brutally gang-raped, and later when her body was cremated at 2.30 am on September 30, keeping the family locked up. The media was not allowed inside the courtroom on Monday during the hearing of the case, where the parents and siblings of the victim accused the DM of forcibly cremating the body. Seema Kushwaha, the lawyer appearing for the family of the victim, is quoted by a national newspaper as saying that the court asked the DM whether he would have done the same thing had it been someone from his family.

If this statement is indeed true, the court has identified the real issue in its very first hearing. The Valmiki girl would not have got brutalised and then her body would not have been snatched away by the law had she been rich or influential. Also, the Uttar Pradesh Government would not have been in a hurry to declare her ‘not raped’ or initiate a witch-hunt against her family’s supporters had the accused been someone else. The caste, class and religious identities of victims and perpetrators seem to dictate a certain kind of official response.

Prashant Kumar of the UP Police should have viewed the video clips of the victim’s statement before claiming that there was no proof of rape, clutching at the forensic laboratory report of the 11-day-old sample, which obviously could not have had semen in it. Whereas the three video clips, according to new reports, are consistent testimony against the accused. The first was recorded while she was lying outside the Chandpa police station with flies hovering over her, the second at the district hospital and the third at the Aligarh medical college. In all these, she clearly names the accused and uses the term ‘zabardasti’ and explains she was strangled because she resisted rape. And that’s clinching evidence.

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