UNDYING EMBERS OF HATHRAS RAPE CASE TRAGEDY

Author:Umang Dudeja,

IMS Unison Univ, Dehradun


INTRODUCTION

In Hathras district, Uttar Pradesh, India, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped on 14 September 2020, allegedly by four upper caste men. She died in a Delhi hospital after struggling for her life for two weeks.

Initially, it was claimed that one accused had attempted to kill her, although the victim identified four accused later in her testimony to the magistrate as having raped her.[1] The brother of the victim reported that in the first 10 days after the incident took place, no arrests were made. The victim was forcefully cremated by the police after her death without her family’s permission and this claim was bluntly refuted by the police.

The anguish within the general public ignited all over the world by the rape and attack on a young woman in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh that led to her death and a hurried cremation. The 19-year-old woman, after being brutally gang raped died in a hospital of Delhi after two weeks of suffering caused protests and anguishes, was cremated near her home in Hathras on Wednesday night with her family alleging that they had been compelled to perform the last rites by local police.

According to official statistics, on an average 10 Dalit women[2] were raped per day last year in India and Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of cases of violence against women in comparison to any other state.


A FATAL ASSAULT AND NO GOODBYE

The 19-year-old struggled for her life for two weeks and succumbed to her injuries on the morning of September 29 at a Delhi hospital. There was no publication of her autopsy report.

Only after police and administrative officials cremated her body in the middle of the night on 29 September, the family said this decision was made without their permission, which raised the doubts that there might be something suspicious.[3] The state government has been insisting since her death that she was not raped at all. Officials appeared to refute or downplay the rape accusation in a series of off-the-record conversations. IN addition the above, the reports in the Indian press said that the state hired a PR firm's services in order to press its rejection.

Last week, Additional Director-General Prashant Kumar, a senior police officer, said that the woman's family in the initial complaint did not mention rape and cited a forensic report claiming that no semen was found in her viscera sample. This argument was rebutted by experts who pointed out that the absence of semen in this sample does not rule out rape. Doctors at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital (JNMCH) in Aligarh, where she had been treated for two weeks submitted a forensic report on the basis of samples which were taken 11 days after the attack. Protocol notices that any data obtained[4] more than four days after a rape is useless.


INCIDENT

In the incident, the victim went to a farm to collect livestock feed. Four men, Sandip, Ramu, Lavkush and Ravi, allegedly dragged her away with her dupatta, damaging her spinal cord in the process. The four upper caste men charged with rape reportedly belong to the caste of Thakur. With a serious spinal cord injury, the accused left her paralysed. The four men allegedly cut her tongue. As she resisted their rape attempt, the perpetrators attempted to strangulate the child.[5] Her cries were heard by her mother who came to the spot to find her lying in the farm. She was first taken to the police station in Chand Pa, where the police denied her allegations and insulted them. On 20 September, the police filed a complaint in which she claimed in her three documented statements that "she was raped" and strangulated

According to the definition of rape under Section 375[6] of the Indian Penal Code, as amended by the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013, In order to constitute the offence of rape it is not at all appropriate to enter the vagina in the traditional sense of sex relations. Rape, however, is often an insertion in the vagina, urethra or anus of a woman of some substance or part of the body, such as the finger, hand or mouth. The crucial part is "to some degree." It also means rape can be caused by the smallest touch with the part concerned.

In the case of Radhakrishna Nagesh vs. State of A.P[7], the Supreme Court observed that the pervasion itself proved to be an offence of rape, but was not valid, i.e., it did not actually mean that there was no rape, even though there was no penetration. Secondly, it is clear from the law that semen or sperm in vaginal swab/smear are not required to constitute rape. InIn U.P. vs. Babul Nath[8], the Court held that rape was not actually induced by the presence of semen, rupture of hymen, and damage to the genitals.

In the hathras case, the sexual assault forensic examination took up to eight days. It can also be argued that without her knowledge or sedation, she was washed/douched. The so-called 'old healed tears' in the hymen may also be said to have arisen from this lateness. Anyhow, the fact that the human vagina is a highly elastic body that makes the passage of a newborn body typical of 3.5 kg without any injury does not indicate that it is insistent that maximum penile penetration and semen discharge is seen. Therefore, since a human penis was inserted in it, it should not be left with a gaping hole.


INDIA'S CASTE SYSTEM

On 22 September, the hospital called a magistrate and made a so-called "dying declaration," as her condition had become serious. In court, these declarations carry weight. Rapes occur in isolated locations where there are rarely any witnesses, so courts usually take the dying argument of a survivor at face value [9]and if contradicted by other evidence, it is usually appropriate for conviction.[10]

In State of Uttar Pradesh vs. Chhotey Lal[11], Bharwada Bhoginbhai Hirjibhai vs State of Gujarat[12], and The State of Punjab vs Gurmit Singh & Ors[13], the Supreme Court has held that in prosecutions of rape, the law does not require medical corroboration. Seeking corroboration amounts to adding insult to injury. In State of Maharasthra v. Chandraprakash Kewalchand Jain[14], the Supreme Court ruled that the Court should normally have no hesitation in considering its evidence if the overall circumstances appearing in the record of the case suggested that the prosecutor may not display a clear motive to mis-imply the person charged.

The Supreme Court in Ranjit Hazarika vs. State of Assam[15] held that the non-resistant and credible testimony of the survivor cannot be discounted by medical evidence based on "no grounds" such as lack of breaking the hymen and injury in private parts.

According to the copy of the statement submitted in court, the girl has been gang raped, and in an interview with a health official who was present in the room, she identified four of her neighbours as the perpetrators. Since then, all four have been arrested and all dispute the claim.

In Hathras, the houses of the victim and the accused are separated only by a narrow street. But their lives are divided by a hierarchy of castes, as rigid as they are old[16]. She belonged to the class of Valmiki, the lowest rung of the Hindu caste order; the Thakur’s, an upper-caste warrior class are the four accused persons. Crime just made the division wider.

Protesters lined the streets in the aftermath of the young woman's death in Hathras. For cracking down on the demonstrators, the police were strongly criticised. Many were beaten with sticks to try to prevent them from meeting the victim's relatives. Opposition members who came in were shot around.

One of India's most controversial right-wing leaders, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath,[17] who is also a Thakur, is facing criticism for his government's handling of the situation. Wide rallies were organised by some of his party colleagues in support of the accused men who were present with their families. Mr Adityanath, who charged the opposition with "doing politics over the dead bodies of the poor," did not visit the family of the deceased.

CONCLUSION

Some of them question whether the female was actually raped after the horrendous Hathras gang rape incident. That is the thinking of people. The question that should be instead asked is that why should a woman die to get justice and still there is a debate going on about the incident that whether it is a rape or not. Once again, this inhuman incident has highlighted the way our culture looks on women. The 19-year-old was raped and left to die in the fields and was unceremoniously cremated in the fields at mid night. Such was the apathy with which she met that a dignified send-off she was not offered. This not only affect the family of the girl but also to the whole society in which we live, that in such a society of human being, a women is not safe.






[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-54444939 [2] https://www.news18.com/news/india/on-an-average-india-reported-10-cases-of-rape-of-dalit-women-daily-in-2019-ncrb-data-shows-2930179.html [3] https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/hathras-gang-rape-a-long-caste-feud-a-horrific-crime-and-a-sudden-cremation/article32754625.ece [4] https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/11/08/india-rape-victims-face-barriers-justice [5] https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/hathras-gang-rape-case-forensic-report-on-hathras-victim-backs-no-rape-claim-but-doubts-remain-2305106 [6] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/623254/ [7] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/43767073/ [8] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/888009/ [9] State vs Kumari Mubin Fatima & Ors. [10] Shudhakar vs State Of M.P [11] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1408786/ [12] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/207774/ [13] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1046545/ [14] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/199575/ [15] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/905384/ [16] https://asiasociety.org/education/jati-caste-system-india [17] https://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-hathras-shock-up-chief-minister-yogi-adityanath-speaks-to-victim-s-family-2846481

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