Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will visit the family of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died in a Delhi hospital on Tuesday a fortnight after she was gang-raped at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.
The woman was cremated in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.
A Congress leader said some members of the party’s Scheduled Castes department – Akshay Maurya, Shivram Singh, Ritu Choudhary, Pramod Kumar and Pradeep Narwal — will also accompany them. Hundreds of Congress workers have started gathering at the Delhi-Noida border to accompany the two leaders, he added.
Before leaving for Hathras, Rahul Gandhi attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over “jungle raj” in Uttar Pradesh. “The atrocities on daughters continue in UP’s jungle raj. They were not given respect when alive and now the dignity has been taken away even in death. The BJP’s slogan of ‘Beti Bachao’ is not to save girls but to hide facts and save power,” he tweeted.
Priyanka Gandhi too attacked chief minister Yogi Adityanath over the rise in incidents of rape in UP. “Hathras-like gruesome incident has happened in Balrampur. The girl’s feet and back were broken. There have been atrocities on girls in Azamgarh, Baghpat and Bulandshahr. There is no limit to UP’s jungle raj. Law and order cannot be implemented through marketing and speeches. This is the time for the chief minister’s accountability. People want answers,” she tweeted in Hindi.
On Wednesday, the Congress demanded Adityanath’s resignation over the incident. Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the people of the country are sad and angry over the gruesome incident and said the ‘Nirbhaya of Hathras’ did not die but was killed by a “cruel and insensitive” government and its administration.
In a video message, she said the country will speak up against this injustice and not allow the BJP to divide the country and violate the Constitution.
“This incident is a blot on our society. I want to ask is it a sin to be a girl? Is it a crime to be the daughter of a poor? What was the UP government doing? For weeks, the family’s cry for justice was not heard. There was an attempt to cover up the issue. The girl was not given proper treatment. Today, our daughter has left us. I want to say that the Nirbhaya of Hathras did not die, she was killed by an insensitive government and its administration,” Gandhi said.
“Even after her death, the girl was denied dignity and not handed over to her family. A weeping mother could not see her daughter for the last time. This is a grave sin. Her body was cremated by force. There is dignity in death. Our Hindu religion is clear about it. But she was cremated like an orphan by the police,” she added.
“What kind of justice is this? What kind of a government is this? You think you can do anything and the nation will sit and watch. The nation will speak against your injustice. On behalf of the Congress party, I demand justice for the family. India belongs to everyone. Everyone has the right to live with dignity. The Constitution has given us this right. We will not allow the BJP to break the country and violate the Constitution,” the Congress president said.
Rahul Gandhi attacked the BJP government over the alleged rise in atrocities on Dalits in the state.
“A daughter of India is raped-murdered, facts are suppressed and in the end, the right to perform the last rites is also taken away from the victim’s family. It is insulting and unjust,” he tweeted in Hindi using the hashtag ‘Hathras Horror Shocks India’.
Gandhi tagged a video purportedly of the cremation site showing a police officer not answering questions on whether the body of the victim was being cremated there.
“This is a shameful move of the UP government to suppress Dalits and show them their ‘place’ in the society. The Congress’ fight is against this disgusting thinking,” he said.
Priyanka Gandhi said, “I was on the phone with the Hathras victim’s father when he was informed that his daughter had passed away. I heard him cry out in despair.”
“He had just been telling me that all he wanted was justice for his child. Last night, the victim’s father was robbed of the chance to take his daughter home for the last time and perform her last rites,” she said in a series of tweets.
Tagging Adityanath, Priyanka Gandhi tweeted, “RESIGN. Instead of protecting the victim and her family, your government became complicit in depriving her of every single human right, even in death. You have no moral right to continue as chief minister.”
In another tweet in Hindi, she alleged that at 2.30 am Wednesday, the victim’s kin kept requesting but the UP administration forcibly cremated the deceased.
“The government did not protect her when she was alive. The government did not provide her timely treatment when she was attacked. After her death, the government took away the right of the family to perform the last rites of their daughter and did not respect the deceased,” she said.
“Gross inhumanity. You did not stop the crime but behaved like criminals. You did not stop the atrocities, but committed atrocity on an innocent child and her family twice,” she added.
At a press briefing, Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev said there must be an inquiry into the whole incident, but the subject matter of the inquiry must go beyond the activities of the rapists.
There should be an inquiry into the “gross and criminal negligence” by the UP chief minister, who is also the home minister of the state, in the matter, Dev said.
“The way she was cremated is a gross violation of her human rights. The way she was left in a normal ward for more than six days is a gross violation of her human rights. For eight days, there is no FIR and when there is an FIR, look at the sections this hopeless and ruthless government gives, no sections of rape,” she alleged.
“The way the cremation was carried out at 2.30 am in an unjust manner, to give justice, the only answer is that the Prime Minister should ask for UP CM’s resignation. If the PM does not do so, then there will be no justice to her,” Dev said.
She also attacked union minister Smriti Irani for not speaking out on the issue. “She would go down in history as the worst women and child development minister. She should resign as an MP of the Lok Sabha given the state of crime and women security in UP,” Dev said.
“Don’t you tell us we are politicising this. The same PM who told us ‘Nirbhaya ko yaad rakhna’ is silent. Ajay Bisht (Yogi Adityanath) will have to resign. We will take to the streets till he leaves his post and we will not let this government sleep,” she said.