Too many cooks
THE WEEK|November 01, 2020
Too many cooks
A clutch of agencies is investigating the Hathras case, but there is no assurance of speedy delivery of justice
NAMRATA BIJI AHUJA

THE ‘OM’ TATTOO on her right hand, the black thread around the left ankle and a thousand dreams were burnt in the pyre of injustice on September 29. Three investigating agencies—the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate and the Uttar Pradesh police—are busy recreating the crime scene, collecting evidence and unravelling conspiracies hatched before and after the death of the 19-year-old dalit woman from Hathras village in Uttar Pradesh. She was brutally assaulted and allegedly gang-raped by four men in millet fields on September 14. She was in a hospital bed with a broken back for two weeks. And her dead body was burnt into ashes by the police allegedly without the consent of her family.

What has played out in the past month was a political carnival of upper caste mobilisation in favour of the accused, dalit politics by mainstream parties, a frenzied media in the middle, and a state government smelling an international conspiracy behind everything. And what has taken a backseat is any effort to give justice to the victim.

While all three investigating agencies believe that the issue is linked to attempts to disturb law and order in the state, create social unrest and discredit the Yogi Adityanath government, the horrific crime that led to the death of the woman continues to be a mystery. The UP police are investigating a larger conspiracy allegedly hatched by some radical outfits to instigate caste and communal riots. More than a dozen sections of the Indian Penal Code have been invoked to investigate sedition, unlawful gratification, criminal conspiracy, illegal inducements and spreading false and defamatory news against some of the accused.

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November 01, 2020