The family of the woman, who died days after being gang raped and tortured in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, has alleged “threats and pressure” from a senior district official who visited them today. A video of the Hathras District Magistrate (DM) speaking to the family has been widely shared since it emerged online.
“Do not finish your credibility. These media people… some left today and tomorrow more will leave. Only we will be here with you. Ok? It is up to you whether you want to change your statement or not. We can also change,” District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar is heard saying in the video filmed on a mobile phone.
In another video in circulation, a veiled woman, believed to be the victim’s sister-in-law, looks into the camera and weeps. “They are putting pressure on us. They are saying that if our daughter had died of coronavirus then she would have received compensation. They are saying the case will be rafaa-dafaa (disposed of). We are getting warnings. Our father is getting warnings,” she says, holding a baby.
“They are threatening us with videos of (the victim’s) mother. At that time she was speaking whatever came to her mind… They will not let us live here. The DM is very cunning, he is trying to trick us. They are pressuring us. They are forcing us and saying our statements are not reliable, we keep changing our statements and we have no credibility.”
The official denied the family’s allegation. “I met with six family members yesterday and we spoke for about an hour and a half. I met with them again today to see their point of discontent. I deny the negative rumours about my interactions with them. Their main worry is that the accused must be hanged. I tried to reassure them and told them that the matter would be tried in a fast track court,” Mr Laxkar said.
The 20-year-old woman died on Tuesday after fighting for her life for two weeks. She had suffered severe injuries after being assaulted by four upper caste men from her village in Hathras on September 14.
She had multiple fractures, a spinal injury and a deep cut in her tongue.
On Tuesday night, the Uttar Pradesh police took away her body and cremated it at 2.30 am, against her family’s wishes and in their absence. The woman’s parents, who had begged to be allowed to take her body home for the last time and perform her funeral the following morning, accused the UP police of forcing the cremation in a desperate cover-up attempt.
The young woman, a Dalit, named her attackers in a statement on September 22. Four men, believed to be upper caste Thakurs, have been arrested.
But the woman’s family accuses the police of lapses throughout; they allege that the police at first refused to act and called the woman’s injuries “drama”. Over the past few days, they have accused the police and district officials of warning them more than once.
A senior UP police officer today claimed that the Forensic Science Laboratory had said in its report the woman was not raped.