Reethu, a story teller, a person often found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of life.
The Uttar Pradesh police, on the wee hours of Wednesday, September 30, forcibly performed the last rites of a 19-year-old Dalit woman who was gang-raped and tortured in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras allegedly by four upper-caste men.
The family alleged that even though they wanted to bring her body home, the police forcibly cremated her body, with the family members locked up in their homes.
Even as nationwide outrage continues over the late-night atrocity of the police, several questions of the UP police personnel's lapses in the case remains - from the alleged delay in filing an FIR to barricading the victim's family while cremating her body.
On September 14 the victim was found naked and bleeding in a Bhoolgarhi village in the district. Doctors at the hospital said that the woman's tongue was cut and she has multiple fractures all over her body.
"My daughter was lying naked with her tongue protruding from her mouth. Her eyes were bulging out and she was bleeding from her mouth, her neck and there was blood near her eyes. I also noticed bleeding from her vagina. I quickly covered her with the pallu of my saree, and started screaming," the victim's mother told Newslaundry.
The family alleged that when her brother and mother took the victim to the Chandpa police station, the police did not take any action, even as the victim "lay groaning in pain on a stone platform in the sun."
"Nobody listened to us there. The police kept saying, 'Just take her from here. She's being dramatic and lying here. Do you want to trap us?'" the victim's brother said.
While the victim had only named one of the accused then and had not mentioned sexual assault, her brother stated that she had been assaulted with the intention to murder. The police then filed an FIR against the accused, Sandeep, and booked him for an attempt to murder and under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act.
"I had found her naked and she was bleeding from her vagina. At the time I thought that if I mentioned it, my daughter would not be able to live with dignity for the rest of her life. But when she herself said it later, we told the police," her mother stated.
The victim was later taken to a local hospital and then to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, Aligarh.
On September 15 the victim regained consciousness there and spoke with her family.
On September 20 the police reached the hospital for the statement of the girl.
On September 21 and 22 her statement was recorded, said Hathras police chief Vikrant Vir.
"Furthermore, even thirteen days after being admitted to the hospital, the doctors had not yet confirmed if the sexual assault had taken place," Dr Shahid Ali Siddiqui, principal of the JNM College and Hospital, said.
Vir said that her samples had been collected and sent for testing and that the report was awaited.
The police chief stated that as no sexual assault has been confirmed by doctors in Hathras and Aligarh, the issue will be probed by doctors through forensic help. He added that there were no signs of abrasion on the victim's private parts, according to India Today.
He also said that the reports of the victim's tongue being cut was false. The same was reiterated by Dr MF Huda, JN Medical College, AMU, who stated that except for an ulcer, which was not necessarily inflicted due to the incident, no other injuries were found on her tongue.
However, her brother maintained that her tongue was cut when he saw her. "I saw my sister, I saw her condition. Her neck was broken. Her tongue was cut. Not chopped off entirely but cut. She told me that her tongue got cut as it came between her teeth," he said.
On September 21, 22, the victim named Luvkush, Ravi and Ramu as her assaulters, along with Sandeep, following which the police added the IPC section related to gangrape to the FIR. While Ravi and Luvkush were arrested on September 21 and 25, Ramu was arrested on September 26.
On September 28 Monday, she was shifted to the Safdarjung Medical Hospital in Delhi, where she died on September 29, Tuesday morning. Her body had reached her village in Hathras around midnight.
Around 3 am on September 30, Wednesday, photos and videos from the village surfaced online, which showed a lone pyre, without any family members near it. Reports stated that the police allegedly barricaded the victim's family inside their home and burnt the body.
"It appears that my sister has been cremated; the police are not telling us anything. We begged them to let us bring her body inside the house one last time, but they didn't listen to us," the woman's brother told The Indian Express at 3:30 am today.
To keep reporters, the victim's family and the villagers away, the police also formed a human chain and only cops were present to perform the victim's last rites.
However, Hathras SP said, "All procedures as per the wish of the family."
HAPPENING NOW — #Hathras rape victim's body has reached her native village, Boolgarhi in Hathras, where the horrific incident took place. SP, DM, Joint Magistrate all here accompanying the family. My camera person Wakar and I will get you all the updates all through the night pic.twitter.com/VxEWDVVpsU— Tanushree Pandey (@TanushreePande) September 29, 2020
Meanwhile, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said the commission condemns that the gang-rape victim was cremated without family's involvement and stated that it will seek an explanation from the UP police regarding the same.
"The brother of the victim called and told my office that he and his father were taken to the cremation ground while the cremation was on but was not allowed to see the face," Sharma said in a tweet.
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