Hathras rape case: CBI keeps off ‘conspiracy’
The CBI has said it will probe only the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras and not the separate cases, lodged by the state administration, about an “international” conspiracy to trigger a caste conflagration and destabilise Yogi Adityanath’s government.
This will allow the state government to investigate its own allegation about the “conspiracy” and target critics, opponents and favourite whipping boys, including the Opposition parties and “anti-nationals” whose involvement it has hinted at.
“After taking over the probe, the agency today registered an FIR and booked the accused for murder, gang rape and violation of the SC/ST Atrocities Act,” CBI spokesperson R.K. Gaur said on Sunday.
Asked about the “conspiracy” cases, lodged through 19 FIRs in 7 districts, he said: “The agency is only probing the alleged rape and murder of the Dalit girl.”
The Uttar Pradesh government had in an affidavit to the Supreme Court on October 5 sought an apex-court monitored CBI inquiry into both the gang-rape-and-murder case and the conspiracy charges.
However, it remains unclear whether, while writing to the Centre for a CBI investigation, the state had mentioned the conspiracy cases too.
A senior official from the department of personnel and training, which administers the CBI and reports to the Prime Minister’s Office, declined to say whether Lucknow had recommended CBI investigations in both the matters.
CBI sources said the Centre had issued a notification on Saturday night sanctioning the agency’s takeover of the Hathras probe.
A team of officers from the Ghaziabad branch of the agency’s Lucknow zone will probe the case.
“The sleuths will visit the crime scene along with forensic experts and recreate the crime. They will also look for fresh evidence. The case needs to be reinvestigated thoroughly,” an agency official said.
Adityanath’s government had on October 4 filed the 19 FIRs alleging an “international” conspiracy by political groups and other organisations to incite caste violence. It named the Popular Front of India, an extremist Muslim organisation, and a website, justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co, which has since been taken down.
Adityanath had told reporters without mentioning names that Opposition parties and “anti-nationals”, aided by foreign funding, were trying to destabilise his government.
One of the 19 FIRs invokes the charge of sedition, under which a Kerala journalist and three others have been arrested while trying to visit Hathras.
The rest of the FIRs carry charges such as promoting enmity between groups and criminal conspiracy.
According to the state government, foreign residents were coordinating with local people and organisations through the website — justiceforhathrasvictim.carrd.co — to incite caste riots on the lines of race clashes in the US.The website was allegedly being used to post morphed photos, collect funds, target the police and administrative officials, and peddle hate speech.
On Monday, the victim’s family members will be at Allahabad High Court to attend a hearing into allegations that the police had hijacked the girl’s body after her death at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital and cursorily cremated it without her family’s consent.
The high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter after media reports quoted the family as saying the police had locked them inside their home and burnt the body with fuel from a jerry can.
The court has summoned the victim’s family members along with top administration and police officials of the state and the district.
The state government has told the apex court that the victim was given a proper cremation in the presence of family members, without specifying who they were.
Adityanath’s government has faced widespread condemnation over the handling of the Hathras atrocity.
According to the victim’s family, the police had waited eight days before invoking the gang-rape charges and denied the girl the best possible treatment.
Four upper caste men allegedly gang-raped the victim on September 14 and broke her neck. She died on September 29 at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.
According to the state’s October 5 affidavit in the Supreme Court, the girl had told the investigating officer on September 22 in an Aligarh hospital that the four accused had gang-raped her and tried to strangle her. A woman head constable was present when the statement was taken and the procedures were video-graphed.
Police officers have, however, contested the rape complaint citing the absence of sperm in a forensic analysis of samples collected eight days after the incident. The police have explained the delay by saying the girl had first spoken of rape on September 22. However, the family members say they mentioned gang rape in their original complaint of September 14.
The report from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Agra, has confirmed two deep injuries in the victim’s vagina.