Rajat Sharma

Hathras rape: Yogi must win the trust of victim’s family

akb1509The UP government on Saturday morning lifted the ban on entry of media personnel inside the gang-rape victim’s village near Hathras. In view of Section 144 prohibitory orders in the village, not more than five mediapersons will be allowed to gather at a single place, the local SDM Prem Prakash Meena said. Entry of delegations of political parties and other social organisations will remain banned in view of the law and order situation, he added.

With this, the two-day-long ban on media entry imposed after the forced cremation of the gangrape victim has come to an end. On Friday, the UP government had suspended the Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Veer, Circle Officer Ram Shabd, SHO Dinesh Kumar Verma, sub-inspector Jagveer Singh and head moharrir (clerk) Mahesh Pal in connection with the gruesome rape and murder of a 19-year-old woman in Chandpa area. Shamli SP Vineet Jaiswal has taken over as Hathras SP.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in a tweet promised to take stringent action against the perpetrators. Yogi said, “those who even dare to think about harming the self-respect of our mothers and sisters will be exterminated. They will face punishment that shall be an example for the future. This is my vow, my promise.”

I have full confidence in Yogi’s resolve to take stringent action against the perpetrators. But the need of the hour is to win the trust of the victim’s parents and family members. Yogi must assure the family that they will not be deprived of justice. In order to do this, he must allow the victim’s family members and relatives to speak freely and openly to the media. This will help in unravelling the truth about the chain of incidents that took place since the day of gangrape and torture till the day of forced cremation. This is the only sure way to win the trust of the victim’s family.

I want to point out here that the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court in its order has clearly indicated that if the probe is not done fairly, it may ask an independent agency to investigate, and if required, it will monitor the probe.

My respect for the Lucknow bench judges has gone up several notches after reading their order in full. After reading the order, one can easily visualize that our judges do not only go by what the executive says, but they keep their eyes and ears open to all other sources of information. They keep a watchful eye on happenings that take place in our society and do not wait for the criminals to be brought to the doorstep of the court. The court did not wait for any PIL to be filed, but took suo motu cognizance of the manner in which the state authorities violated the basic principles of human dignity and values by carrying out a forced cremation of the victim.

In their 11-page order, Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Jaspreet Singh mentioned the videos shown in my show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on India TV and pulled up the state authorities for carrying out the forced cremation. The judges wrote: “As it is, the deceased victim was treated with extreme brutality by the perpetrators of the crime and what is alleged to have happened thereafter, if true, amounts to perpetuating the misery of the family and rubbing salt in their wounds.”

The judges, in their order, said: “In this very context, we may also refer to an electronic media program shown on India TV channel by the name “Aaj Ki Baat” where the anchor Shri Rajat Sharma dwelled on the issue of alleged forcible cremation of the deceased victim at length and in the said program, videos which were recorded on the spot at the time the deceased victim’s body arrived in the village and her cremation indicating the forcible cremation without the family members being allowed to participate, that too, in the midst of night contrary to the religious practices followed by the family, have been shown. The family members were shown as stating that cremation is not carried out after sunset and before daybreak and that the body of the deceased should be taken to their home, but this was not done……The state authorities are directed that no coercion, influence or pressure is exerted on the family members of the deceased in any manner, by anyone.”

The family members of the deceased have been directed to be present before the court (on October 12) “so that the court can further ascertain the facts.” The court has directed the state government to bring the victim’s parents and her close family members from Hathras to Lucknow, make arrangements for their stay and food, and present them before the court.

The court has also summoned the Additional Chief Secretary or Principal Secretary (Home), DGP, Additional DGP, Hathras District Magistrate and Hathras SP to put forth their version of the case with supporting material and to apprise the court of the status of the investigation.”

The high court order clearly indicates that the learned judges did not wait for any PIL or government’s response, but on seeing visuals of the family members begging before officials, and listening to the DM speaking to the family, made up their mind to take suo motu cognizance and issued the order. This is a humane act on part of the judiciary and it rekindles the sense of respect towards judges in the minds of common people.

Initially, my efforts since the time when news broke about the death of the Hathras girl have been to point out how she was tortured, how she suffered for two weeks due to the negligence of the administration and how she breathed her last in Delhi’s Safdarjang hospital. But after seeing the manner in which police ignored the pleas of family members, whisked away her body from hospital in the dead of night, took it to her village, and then carried out a hurried cremation disregarding pleas of the victim’s parents, I knew that the district administration was lying through its teeth. The district officials were spinning out lies after lies. It was because of these lies that the SIT formed by the Chief Minister took the first step in getting the SP and other cops suspended.

The SIT, apart from recommending suspension of the police officers, has recommended polygraph and narco tests on policemen, all the accused and family members of the victim.

Already, most of the lies dished out by the police have been exposed. It is a matter of time before the truth behind the grotesque gangrape and murder of the girl will tumble out and those shielding the perpetrators will be unmasked. Despite the clear order of the High Court, the pressure on the girl’s family is evident for all to see.

The only silver lining in the cloud is that Yogi Adityanath has realized how the arrogant and abrasive attitude of some police officers has brought a bad name to the state government. It was because of this that the Hathras SP and other policemen were suspended on Friday night. Let us hope that Yogi will ultimately win back the trust of the girl’s family members and relatives and his government will nail the perpetrators.

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