regular-article-logo Thursday, 08 June 2023

Garlands for Hathras trio acquitted of gangrape, murder of Dalit teenager

A villager claims that girl’s family members had beaten her to death

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 04.03.23, 03:36 AM
Representational image.

Representational image. File picture

Three of the four men acquitted of the gangrape and murder of a Dalit teenager, who died days after recording her statement naming them in September 2020 and whose late-night cremation by Hathras police had shocked the country, were garlanded by a section of upper-caste villagers on Friday on their return from jail.

“Villagers of a particular caste welcomed them (Ravi Singh, Ramu Singh and Luvkush Singh) with garlands,” a brother of the victim said. “Some villagers had earlier threatened to kill us. Since the three accused men have been freed, they are charged up now. Our lives are in danger,” the brother added.


The family was provided security after the incident made national headlines. “Although we have been provided security by the CRPF, the fact remains that we have to work to survive but we are not able to step out of home. We also cannot go to our relatives’ homes when we wish,” the brother said.

On Thursday, an SC/ST court of special judge Trilok Pal Singh cleared three of the accused of all charges while convicting the fourth — Sandeep Singh — of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. It found him guilty of strangulating the teen but rejected the murder charge because “the victim had been talking for eight days after the incident...” He was sentenced to life imprisonment and fined Rs 50,000. The court said there was no evidence of rape.

In her statement recorded in an Aligarh hospital where she was admitted after the brutality, the girl had named all the four accused and said they had gang-raped and attacked her.

“All four will be punished when the case is decided by the high court,” her brother said on Friday.

Nishant Chauhan, general secretary of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Karni Sena, an organisation of the Kshatriyas, held a news conference in Hathras on Friday and said: “The release of our three youths is a victory of justice. They were trapped in a false case.”

A villager who was among those who garlanded the trio claimed that the girl’s family members had beaten her to death. “Nobody else was involved in it and we are happy about the release of our people,” he said.

The police, who had allegedly cremated the body of the girl in a field against her parents’ wishes, had registered a case against Sandeep on September 14, 2020, on the basis of her statement.

The CBI filed its first chargesheet in December 2020, accusing all four of murder and gang rape and violation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The court took cognisance of the first case filed by the brother of the girl on September 14, 2020, that said she was cutting grass in a field and their mother was doing so in another field when Sandeep reached there at 9.30am and attacked the teen. He ran away when the girl cried for help and her mother rushed to the spot.

However, the court didn’t consider the second complaint submitted by the brother with the then superintendent of police that said the mother was cutting grass, the sister was taking it and keeping it at a distance and the brother was carrying it home on his motorcycle when Sandeep, Ravi, Ramu, Luvkush and two-three unidentified people dragged the teen by her dupatta to a pearl millet field. They gangraped her and then tried to kill her so that their identity would not be revealed. Her neck and backbone got fractured. They also cut her tongue and left her with wounds on her entire body, the complaint said. They ran away when they thought she was dead.

On why he changed the complaint, the brother said in the second complaint to the SP: “I was too dazed and couldn’t write my first complaint properly. I was also not aware of the entire incident at that time as I had gone home with a stack of grass when my sister was attacked.”

Acquitted after 40 years

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday acquitted a Bengal resident of the charge of killing his wife 40 years ago, ruling that his conviction on the basis of extra-judicial confessions cannot be sustained as it is a weak piece of evidence.

The murder was alleged to have taken place on March 11, 1983, in Burdwan. The trial court decided the case on March 31, 1987, acquitting Nikhil Chandra Mondal. The state government’s appeal against the verdict remained pending in Calcutta High Court till December 15, 2008, when he was convicted and handed the life sentence.

Mondal, now 64, was 24 at the time of his arrest, according to his lawyer Rukhsana Chowdhury. He has spent more than 14 years behind bars.


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