Hathras: UP Police forcibly burnt Dalit woman’s dead body, locked family inside house

“The cremation was being carried out against the wishes of the family,” the brother of the woman said. Photo: Tanushree Pandey/Twitter

Parents of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died in a Delhi hospital a fortnight after she was gang-raped in Hathras by four upper-caste Hindu men, said that the Uttar Pradesh police forcibly cremated her daughter’s body in the middle of the night – a little after 3 am on Wednesday.

“The cremation was being carried out against the wishes of the family,” the brother of the woman said.

“The police have forcibly taken the dead body, and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken to the crematorium by the police” he told PTI over phone at 1 AM on Wednesday.

“They are doing all this to hush up the case,” he said.

“Police locked family members and locals inside the house and forcibly burnt the body. The family couldn’t even see their daughter for one last time,” Tanushree Pandey, a journalist at India Today tweeted.

Before the cremation, her family members asked the policemen: “Why are you not letting us take our daughter home for some time? Why are you forcing.”

Her mother said to police she doesn’t want to cremate her in the middle of the night and she wants to take her home for last rituals.

The family left from Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Tuesday night amid heavy police deployment. The body was taken by the Uttar Pradesh police, which reached Hathras earlier than the family members, said the brother, according to news agency PTI.

“Victim’s body being burnt by police after barricading the family, not letting them take her home one final time. This happens again and again to Dalit victims. Happened to Rohith Vemula. Robbing people the right to mourn and grieve is naked caste-ridden state terror,” Dalit activist and poet Meena Kandasamy tweeted.

The woman was left with her legs paralysed fully and hands partially after the assault on September 14. After her condition deteriorated, she was referred to Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital where she breathed her last on Tuesday.

The four accused, Sandeep, Ramu, Lavkush, and Ravi who have already been arrested will now also face charges under Section 302 (murder) of the IPC, according to the Hathras SP.

As news of her death spread, Dalit activists and members of political parties Congress, Bhim Army, SP and BSP took to the street in Delhi and across various cities in Uttar Pradesh and expressed their anguish and demanding justice for her.