New Delhi: After a huge controversy over the hurried late night cremation of the Hathras gang rape victim by Uttar Pradesh Police Wednesday, local BJP MP Rajvir Diler has now questioned the manner in which the last rites of the 20-year-old woman was done.
Speaking to ThePrint, Diler said he asked the district magistrate to perform the cremation in the morning, but he didn’t listen.
“For the last two days, I have been with the woman’s family members in their village. During the cremation, the district magistrate, the superintendent of police were present. I was also there, but the police asked me to move to the police station fearing a clash.”
“I asked the DM to perform the last rites in the morning, but he didn’t listen. The police also didn’t inform me that they will be doing the cremation,” he claimed.
Asked who took the decision to cremate the woman in the dead of the night, the Hathras MP said the district magistrate was there at the spot and he might have taken the decision to avoid further tension.
“There were lots of Samajwadi Party and BSP workers there, but I will request the chief minister to take action against the district magistrate,” he added.
“I am ashamed as an MP and I have told the Valmiki community if I fail to get justice for their girl, I am ready to resign from Lok Sabha,” he further said.
The 20-year-old victim was a member of the Valmiki community. She was out to collect fodder on 14 September when four of her upper-caste neighbours allegedly dragged her into the bajra fields, pulling her by the dupatta around her neck, and assaulted her. While she was being strangled, she allegedly bit her tongue so hard that she cut it. On Tuesday, she died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital.
A huge controversy erupted Wednesday after the UP Police cremated the body in the village without allowing the family members a “last look” even as they kept requesting them to wait until sunrise.
‘Rape case has sullied govt’s image’
As the body of the woman was on its way from New Delhi to Hathras, district police officials had started preparing for the cremation and three layers of barricades were put up between the main road and the victim’s home. There was a huge contingent of police force to restrict villagers from coming near the pyre.
Uttar Pradesh BJP MPs have slammed the UP Police and also said the rape case has sullied the government’s image.
Mohanlalganj BJP MP Kaushal Kishore said: “Police in UP are not listening to anyone and they are harassing Dalits and the poor.”
“Their only job is to cover up atrocities. They should be punished before it’s too late,” said the Dalit MP.
Another Dalit BJP MP from Kaushambi Vinod Sonkar told ThePrint: “This incident has dented the government’s image. This is a blot on us. The party may see its consequences in Bihar polls and UP bypolls if it is not handled properly.”
A Dalit BJP leader, who didn’t want to be named, said the problem lies with the politicisation of the bureaucracy in UP.
“Every government in UP has placed bureaucrats according to their caste. Now the Thakur bureaucracy is in power and they are not concerned about Dalits’ sensitivity. When (BSP chief) Mayawati ruled, Dalit bureaucracy took charge to punish the upper caste. This trend is the actual root of insensitivity,” he added.
Concern over UP and Bihar polls
Hathras is a reserved constituency and the ruling party is expected to face a backlash in the upcoming by-elections in the state to be held on eight seats in November, BJP sources said.
The bypolls will be seen as a referendum on the Yogi government’s performance before the 2022 assembly elections. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is already facing heat over his handling of the Covid situation in the state, besides concerns related to law and order.
Sources in the BJP said the party is concerned that the Dalit issue can be a big spoiler in the upcoming Bihar elections, leading to the prime minister calling the CM to set up an SIT to probe the rape case. The SIT will be headed by UP home secretary Bhagwan Swaroop.
The BJP has also kept its leaders ready to defend the party from opposition attack over the rape case.
After Rahul Gandhi’s attack on the BJP over the incident, the party fielded UP government spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh to attack the Congress on its Dalit credentials.
BJP sources said the party even asked its central spokespersons to defend Adityanath.
In Bihar, where election campaigning has started, deputy CM Sushil Modi has taken the charge to counter RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav’s attack on the BJP over the Hathras case.