Hathras District Magistrate Praveen Kumar Lakshkar on Monday appeared before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court and pleaded that the gangrape victim was cremated at midnight to avoid violence and maintain law and order in the district. He further stated that there was strong evidence of the involvement of organisations like the PFI and some journalists in provoking the family of the victim.
Lakshkar said, “There was a huge gathering of anti-social elements outside the village who were bent on violence. Also, because it had been a long time since the victim’s death, the condition of the body was deteriorating. Keeping in view the above circumstances and consulting about the situation with other senior administrative and police officials, I, in the capacity of the district magistrate of Hathras, took the decision of performing the last rites of the victim in the night. The family of the victim was taken into confidence while performing the last rites under administrative supervision.”
Confirming the conspiracy theory of instigating violence in the Hathras incident, he further pleaded, “It also came to light that a website ‘Justice for Hathras’, through its instigating and inflammatory content was also trying to disturb the law and order in Hathras and adjoining areas.”
The statement further reads, “There is also strong evidence of the role of the involvement of organisations like PFO and some alleged journalists in provoking the family even after they had met the Chief Minister and all their demands were met by the government. There are also intelligence inputs of funding to the Bhim Army through PFI to disturb harmony of the state. There are also inputs about some naxal organizations who were also plotting communal riots in the state.”
The family members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman appeared before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday, which fixed November 2 as the next date of hearing. They were heard by the Bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy.
The woman’s parents and siblings recorded their statements while the Additional Chief Secretary, DGP,and ADG (Law and Order) also deposed before the court, along with the Hathras DM and SP.
The woman’s father, mother and three brothers were brought to the court amid tight security from Hathras earlier in the day. The court had summoned the Additional Chief Secretary, Home; the Director General of Police; ADG, Law and Order; and the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of Hathras to furnish the status report of investigation into the case.
The woman was allegedly raped by four upper caste men on September 14. She succumbed to severe assault injuries at a Delhi hospital a fortnight later, which was followed by a hushed-up cremation, allegedly forced by the district administration.
The brutal injuries suffered by the woman and the administration’s move to cremate her body late at night triggered a massive outrage, resulting in a pitched political battle from Delhi to Hathras. “Shocked" by the murder and alleged gang rape of the Dalit woman and the subsequent cremation, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had on October 1 summoned top government officials.