Hathras victim’s family experiencing casteism over decades: Fact-finding report

A fact-finding report by the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) on the gang rape and murder of the 19-year-old Dalit woman by upper-caste Hindu men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras was released on Tuesday.

The fact-finding team led by prominent activist Medha Patkar noted that the Hathras incident is “a result of cumulative effect of caste, gender, inequality, and injustice.”

According to the 24-page report, Bulgarhi, a village in Hathras district with more than 600 families, has a small group of about 15 Dalit families as a minority living since generation but experiencing a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over decades.

The report notes that the Dalit woman’s family through her father, was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s BSP government in 1990s.

“However, till today, they are in physical possession of only three and half bighas while the rest is apparently encroached upon by some Brahmin family. They have small supplementary income from cattle rearing, through sale of milk,” it said.

NAPM’s report also referred to an old incident (nearly 20 years ago) where the Dalit woman’s grandfather was attacked by the accused Thakurs’ grandfather.

“They came into our field to graze their buffalos and my grandfather requested them to take the animals elsewhere as our crops would get damaged. Angered that a Dalit could tell them this, they attacked him with a knifelike object. When my grandfather tried to protect his neck, the knife cut away his fingers,” the report cited her brother’s comment.

The report slammed the UP police’s behaviour and said “there is no doubt that the police of Uttar Pradesh behaved in a highly suspicious as well as vicious manner, beyond anyone’s expectation and they have, thereby created all doubts about their intentions.”

It also alleged that the victim was brought to the Balga Hospital but the doctors were not briefed by police nor did any policeman or official did any investigation as per all the family members, her’s mother, brother, father, sister-inlaw and her brother.

“This was absolutely necessary for any further investigation and action under section 375 of IPC as is known to the administration but not carried out.”

While concluding the fact-finding report, it said: “Such an awfully inhuman and criminal act on the part of the state with no repentance, nor any response to our serious questions or legal challenge, has proved that the state itself wanted to suppress the issue with casteist, manuvadi and inhuman anti-woman elements exposed through this and other incidents in Unnao, Balarampur, or Azamgarh cases.”