(This story originally appeared in on Oct 04, 2020)HATHRAS: In their first comments to the media after being cut off by the UP administration from speaking out for days, the family of the 19-year-old Dalit girl from Hathras said on Saturday that they will not immerse the ashes of the dead teenager as they don’t know if it was hers. Later in the day, facing a mounting demand for accountability, chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered a CBI investigation into the alleged gang-rape and death of the girl.
“Two senior government officials met the family and then submitted their report to the chief minister. Based on that, CBI has been asked to take over investigation into the case,” chief secretary Rajendra Tewari told
TOI. “The aim is to dispel all doubt and misgivings, and ensure justice.”
After the announcement, the victim’s brother said the family would be satisfied if the investigation is “monitored by a sitting Supreme Court judge.” The family also said they will not submit to a narco-polygraph test as they are not the ones who are lying. And, in a significant statement, the family said that they had been “imprisoned” by an administration that “forced” them to sign a paper saying they accept the compensation and job offered to them by the state government.
“Insaaniyat ke naate wahaan se asthiyaan le aaya… Koi nyay nahin mila (I collected the ashes out of humanity, not because we got justice),” said the victim’s brother.
It has been four days since the girl, who died after being allegedly gang-raped by four upper caste men in her village, was cremated by the police without the presence of the family. The spot is a small cremation space carved out in the middle of bajra fields for the village’s Dalit community. The family won’t immerse the ashes. “We are not sure whose ashes these are,” the brother said. The girl’s mother asked why her face was not shown to the family before cremation: “Everyone who went close was driven away, kicked.”
For the past two days, the family said, they have been confined to their house. “We were imprisoned in our own house. We don’t know what happened with the investigation,” the brother said, when asked how meetings with UP officials went. “We won’t be satisfied until we get answers.”
But they do know the government has ordered narco and polygraph tests for everyone involved in the case — the cops, the accused and even them. “Why should polygraph tests be conducted on us? Are we the culprits?” asked the victim’s sister-in-law. “We will not undergo these tests. They should conduct truth tests on the accused and the cops who are trying to twist the narrative.” The girl’s father, for instance, had been “forced to sign a paper of compensation and job”, the sister-in-law said.
“These two days, cops have questioned every movement of ours. We didn’t even get to step out. It was only today that some of our family members could go out and buy provisions,” the sister-in-law said. The 19-year-old had two brothers and two sisters.
When told that the SP had been suspended on Friday, the girl’s brother shot back: “What about the DM?” The district magistrate, Praveen Laxkar, had been seen in a video purportedly threatening the family with a reminder that “media will leave, we’ll be here”. The brother said the family had indeed been warned: “The DM had asked if we would have got any compensation if my sister had died of corona.”
In the afternoon, when additional chief secretary Avnish Awasthi and DGP HC Awasthi called on them, that was what the family brought up. The brother said, “We sought replies from them, they didn’t ask us anything. We have registered our complaint about the DM.”