Opposition leaders, Dalit organizations, rights activists, students, and women groups came together at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar to protest against the gang-rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindu men in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
“Our brave daughter will be in the hearts of all Ambedkarites,” Riya, a Dalit student from IIT Delhi who joined the protest told Maktoob.
“This is cast-based violence. She was killed by men from the Thakur community. It is the Yogi Adithynath and his caste code which protects the culprits,” Riya who is also a Bhim Army volunteer said.
While addressing hundreds of demonstrators, Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar Azad said: “The police burnt Dalit woman in Hathras with petrol even though the family did not give permission. She was burnt like garbage. They have no right to do that.”
“I will visit Hathras. Our struggle will continue till the time Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister doesn’t resign, and justice is served,” he said.
Azad urged the Supreme Court to take cognizance of the incident.
The Dalit leader further appealed to sanitation workers across the country to boycott work “so that this government knows who is actually spreading dirt in the society”.
“We will fight this dictatorial government till death,” he added.
Addressing the protest, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the accused should be hanged at the earliest.
“Allow the family to meet whoever they want, don’t put them under lock and key. There should also be no politics on this incident; whether it happens in U.P, Rajasthan or Delhi, the point is that such incidents should not happen,” Kejriwal said.
“Uttar Pradesh Police was putting pressure on the Dalit woman’s family to sign statements to cover up their failures and was therefore not allowing the media and Opposition leaders to enter Hathras,” Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mewani told Maktoob.
“The UP government has no right to stay in power. Our demand is that justice should be served,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.
“The silence of the central government and the top leadership of BJP on such a heinous crime and the UP government’s response thereafter speak volumes about the authoritarian and anti democratic chehra, chaal, charitra, and chintan of the ruling party,” Yechury took a dig at the ruling party.
“It is time the country starts fighting the “rape epidemic. People from different groups are here, this shows how enraged people are against what happened in Hathras, Balrampur, Azamgargh…there is a rape epidemic which has spread in the country, especially the kind of news we are getting from Uttar Pradesh,” Bollywood actor Swara Bhaskar told media.
CPIM leaders Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat, CPI leaders D Raja, Kanhaiya Kumar, AAP MLAs Saurabh Bhardwaj, and Atishi Marlena, Congress leader Sushmita Dev, Welfare Party of India leader S.Q.R Ilyas, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind leader Mohammad Salim Engineer, lawyer Prashant Bhushan were also part of the protest.
Earlier in the day, ahead of the protest calls around India Gate, Delhi Police had said that no gathering will be allowed around India Gate due to restrictions imposed under Section 144. The protest later shifted to the Jantar Mantar owing to the prohibitory orders in place in the Rajpath area.