Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday suspended Hathras Superintendent of Police and four other policemen for alleged dereliction of duty in the events that led to the death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman followed by her hasty cremation in the dead of the night in the absence of her family members.
The announcement came as protests were witnessed in several states, with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal calling for the accused to be hanged.
Others suspended include Circle officer Ram Shabd, Inspector Dinesh Kumar Verma, Sub-Inspector Jagveer Singh and head constable Mahesh Pal. They were suspended on the basis of a preliminary investigation conducted by the state government.
“In the Hathras case, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has directed to suspend the SP, DSP, inspector and some others officials, based on the preliminary investigation report," said a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) on Friday night. “Narco-polygraph tests of the SP and DSP will also be conducted."
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Avanish Awasthi said all these officers will have to undergo the test, along with family members of the deceased, to ascertain the truth behind the incident since they have been giving contradictory statements regarding the incident.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi, who with her brother Rahul Gandhi had unsuccessfully attempted to march to Hathras on Thursday to meet the victim’s family, said the suspension was not enough. She once again called on Adityanath to resign.
“What will happen if you suspend a few pieces? On whose order was the victim of Hathras and her his family suffering?" she asked in a tweet in Hindi, adding that the phone records of the DM and SP be made public.
.@myogiadityanath जी कुछ मोहरों को सस्पेंड करने से क्या होगा? हाथरस की पीड़िता, उसके परिवार को भीषण कष्ट किसके ऑर्डर पर दिया गया? हाथरस के डीएम, एसपी के फोन रिकार्ड्स पब्लिक किए जाएँ। मुख्यमंत्रीज अपनी जिम्मेदारी से हटने की कोशिश न करें। देश देख रहा है @myogiadityanath इस्तीफा दो— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) October 2, 2020
The family of the victim, who succumbed to her injuries at a Delhi hospital after she was allegedly gang-raped in Hathras, also claimed they were being pressured by the district administration against repeatedly changing their statement. The father of the woman said he was being pressured by government officials and demanded a CBI probe into the matter.
The father, around 50 years old, claimed he was pressured into going to a police station where the district magistrate and police officials made three members of his family sign some document. “But we are not satisfied with this. My daughter’s case should be probed by the CBI and monitored by a Supreme Court judge. We are under pressure from officials and confined to our home while the media has also been disallowed from meeting us," he said in a purported video shared by Priyanka Gandhi on Twitter.
There was speculation about DM Praveen Laxkar being suspended as well. The official was earlier this week was caught on camera issuing a veiled “threat" to the rape victim’s father as he asked him to comply with the government. The video was shared by Congress general secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala on Thursday evening.
Amid nationwide outrage over the brutal gang-rape and murder, Adityanath on Friday said the state government is committed to the safety of women and will ensure the strictest punishment is meted out to the four accused.
Issuing a warning to those who wish to harm the “honour" of women, Adityanath in a tweet in Hindi said his government will ensure exemplary punishment and act as a deterrent in the future.
Scores of lawyers in the state have joined the demand for imposition of President’s Rule in UP, also demanding the dismissal of the state government.
The 20-year-old Dalit woman was raped in a village in Hathras by four men on September 14. She died two weeks later, having suffered multiple fractures, paralysis and a gash in her tongue in the horrific assault.
The woman was admitted to Aligarh Muslim University’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital and then shifted to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital where she succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday. She was cremated in Hathras during the early hours of Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.
All four attackers, upper-caste men from her village, are in jail. They will now also be charged with murder.