On Monday, while taking an exception to the midnight cremation of Hathras victim, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court asked the UP Police ADG as to whether he would have allowed his daughter to be cremated the way Hathras victim was.
The bench comprising of Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Rajan Roy reportedly chided the police officials and the District Magistrate who ordered for hasty burning of the body of 19-year-old Hathras gangrape victim, allegedly without the consent of her parents.
“Would you have burnt the body if the victim was from a well-to-do family?” asked the bench to the District Magistrate, Praveen Kumar Laxkar. Further, the bench also asked a senior police officer of UP, ADG (Law and Order), Prashant Kumar, “if he would have allowed his daughter to be cremated the same way,” sources reported.
The assertions came after the victim’s parents accused the district magistrate and the police of neither allowing them the last glimpse of their daughter’s body nor permitting them to be present at the hastily carried out cremation. In his deposition before the court, the victim’s father disclosed as to how the district magistrate had allegedly told them, “You are getting Rs 25 lakh from the chief minister’s fund, do you think you would have got that if your daughter had died due to coronavirus?”
Subsequently, the victim’s family urged the court to transfer the case out of the state as they ‘did not have faith in the local authorities. They further requested for security till the end of the judicial procedure and demanded that the reports of CBI be kept confidential.
Meanwhile, the District Superintendent of Police, Vikrant Vir claimed that he was acting on his own accord and not on any ‘instructions from Lucknow’, the state capital. On the other hand, the District Magistrate of Hathras Praveen Kumar Laxkar, who also appeared before the court, accepted that it was his decision to cremate the victim’s body in the night. He said it was done to control the law and order situation.
Further, the State officials requested for some time to file additional replies, after which the bench had adjourned the hearing till 2 November 2020.
The 19-year-old woman, belonging to the Valmiki community, was allegedly gang-raped and strangulated by four upper-caste men on September 14. She was initially given treatment at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital, Aligarh. When her health started deteriorating, she was shifted to Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, where she breathed her last on September 29. The police cremated her body in the middle of the night, allegedly ignoring the protests of her family members.
The HC Court remarked that if these reports are true, then it would be a case of “gross violation of basic human and fundamental rights” enshrined under Article 21 and Article 25 of the Constitution of India “in a most blatant and uncalled for manner, something which is absolutely unacceptable in our country governed by Rule of Law and the Constitution.”