HATHRAS: The village in UP’s Hathras where the 19-year-old Dalit girl was allegedly gang-raped before she died was off limits to the media and politicians for the second day in a row. Many who tried to enter and reach out to the bereaved family were manhandled, pushed to the ground and forced off on Friday.
Later in the evening, based on what the SIT suggested in its preliminary report, CM Yogi Adityanath suspended Hathras SP Vikrant Veer, three cops posted at Chanda police station at the time of the incident — Sadabad circle officer Ram Shabd, station house officer Dinesh Kumar Verma and sub-inspector Jagveer Singh — along with head moharrir (clerk) Mahesh Pal. Shamli SP Vineet Jaiswal will take over as Hathras SP.
The SIT recommended polygraph and narco tests for everyone involved in the case — cops, the accused and victim’s family.
There is one main access point to the village and a tertiary route from behind farmlands leading up to a cluster of Dalit houses. Both had been barricaded, with six cops at one and 15 at another. Police stopped a TOI team from entering the village around 11am, warning against “moving any further” and saying they had “strict instructions from higher authorities” to not let anyone pass.
Six cops, including three women constables from Kasganj, were stationed there, with several police and government vehicles parked a few metres away. Another news channel reporter was also stopped by police, who forced her into a police jeep and dropped her and the accompanying cameraperson outside the village.
A four-member Trinamool team — MPs Derek O’Brien, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Pratima Mondal and ex-MP Mamata Thakur — that was approaching the village met a similar resistance. Around noon, about 1.5 km from the village, O’Brien was seen being pushed to the ground by joint magistrate Prem Prakash Meena in a video that went viral. “The country is unsafe for women. Their honour is in danger. We only wanted to meet the victim’s family,” a Trinamool representative said.
Police put this down to a need for enabling investigation. “Media entry has been banned so the SIT investigation is not hampered. Counter-questioning is on, statements are being recorded. We will allow entry only after the probe is over,” Hathras additional SP Prakash Kumar said. “Politicians will, however, not be allowed because of the law and order situation. They will only be let in after the administration thinks the situation is normal.” Later in the evening, ADG (Agra zone) Ajay Anand said media could be allowed to enter on Saturday. “Statements of the family members and others have been recorded.”
The three-member SIT had been set up on Wednesday. It stayed in the village for over 48 hours and recorded statements of over 100 people. No action has been taken against Hathras district magistrate Praveen Laxkar, who was purportedly heard “threatening” the family in a video, additional chief secretary Avnish Awasthi confirmed.
Their protest marches cut short, some political workers set up base at the barricades. AAP workers sat on a dharna. When police used “mild force” to remove them, they started singing the national anthem. Members of the Sangh Parivar outfit Hindu Mahasabha also converged on the site to register protest and demand action against the accused. They were also made to leave.
Within the village, upper caste community members were seen moving freely, putting together a “counter-protest” to demand “justice for the accused”. The four accused are from their community.