The family of 19-year-old Dalit woman from Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, who died in a Delhi hospital of injuries sustained when she was gang-raped, has alleged that she was forcibly cremated.
The family claimed that the woman’s body was taken away by the police in the middle of the night for final rites.
“The police have forcibly taken the dead body, and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police,” the woman’s brother told news agency PTI.
The body of the woman reached her village around midnight and the cremation was done by 3 am on Wednesday.
The villagers claimed that they wanted to take the body of the woman to her house, but administration pressed for cremation at the earliest. The passage for ambulance was blocked and finally cremation took place in village.
The police, meanwhile, said that the cremation of the woman was carried out by the family members. Superintendent of Police (SP) Vikrant Veer denied any “urgency” by police in cremation despite the fact that cremation usually do not take place in night.
He added that the cremation was done as usual after the body reached Boolgarhi village in Hathras district.
He claimed that the situation is calm in the village, but heavy police force has been deployed.
The woman was raped in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras village by four men on September 14 and died a fortnight later after battling serious injuries. The woman was first taken to Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Aligarh, but shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi after her condition deteriorated.
She was in a critical condition and on ventilator support.
The brutality against the teenager has sparked outrage across the country with several political leaders, Bollywood actors and activists demanding justice for her.
The case has drawn parallels with the gang rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi, who was attacked on a moving bus and left to die on a roadside in 2012.
“A Dalit girl who was a victim of demoniac behaviour in Hathras has passed away at Safdarjung Hospital. For two weeks, she kept struggling between life and death in hospitals,” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said on Twitter. She added that incidents of rape in Hathras, Shahjahanpur, and Gorakhpur had shaken the state.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal demanded that the guilty be tried and hanged at the earliest. “The death of Hathras victim is shameful for the entire society, country as well as for all the governments. It is highly sad that so many daughters are being sexually assaulted and we have not been able to protect them,” Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.
The four people accused of raping the woman have been arrested.