FACT FINDING REPORT on brutal gangrape, assault, and murder of a 19-year-old dalit girl by upper caste Thakur men in Bulgarhi village, Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.
Members of the fact-finding team:
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), 9423965153, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mani Mala, Activist, Writer, 9810841150, email@example.com
Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar and NAPM, 9999746196, firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Athialy, Delhi Solidarity Group, 9871153775, email@example.com
Amit Kumar, Delhi Solidarity Group, 8486944483, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hansraj, Narmada Bachao Andolan, 8085649497
Anand Athialy, Student
After 14 years, on the same date, i.e., September 29th, Since the Khairlanji murder took place in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, we have witnessed the Hathras incident, rape and murder of another Dalit victim. These atrocities that have been taking place across India are a result of cumulative effect of caste & gender, inequality & injustice.
The episode in Hathras, with a native Dalit girl, 19 years old, let’s call her Dasya, in village Bulgarhi is however entangled in a controversy but also in the casteist politics, denying the facts narrated by the family of the victim and openly accusing them of lying and honour killing. This was so shocking yet unexpected and unimaginable even to all those, individuals and organisations, who are already aware and disturbed by the repression and violence witnessed in Uttar Pradesh over last few years. It is in this context that we, as representatives of National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a team of senior activists and our supporters decided to visit the area, listen to the victim’s family members and others, and conclude on the real facts and analysis of the brutal atrocity case not merely in the legal but socio-economic-political framework. Our intention has also been to raise voice against the inhumanity and extend our support to Dasya’s family to fight the battle amidst feudal-casteist environs and politics.
We, a team of nine members, reached village Bulgarhi around 1 pm on 9th October. Before we could pass through the police cordon and barricades, we were stopped that no more than five members can go together to meet the victim’s family. After writing applications addressed to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate in two teams of 5 and 4, we were allowed to go and meet the victim’s family. The first team was provided a police vehicle to reach the Dasya’s house, one and half kilometres away, while the second team had to walk. While the second team was waiting for the return of the first team, saffron turban cladded Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha activists also arrived with posters stuck on their vehicles with message written that they were there only to meet the ‘victim’ Thakur family. They were about ten to twelve people. They argued with police to go together and after much debate, they were allowed to go together inside the village. One of the vehicles with them carried the flag of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party, the breakaway faction from Samajwadi Party formed by Shivpal Yadav (See pictures attached).
Some of us sat inside, met and heard the vivid details of the incidence, the past and the post facto events as well. Bulgarhi, a village with more than 600 families, has a small group of about 15 Dalit families as a minority living since generation but experiencing a number of repressive acts and atmosphere over decades. The upper caste families of Thakurs, who have support of, have used services of Dalit families as agricultural labourers and in other ways. Some awakening has taken place among Dalits over decades.
Dasya’s family through her father, was allotted 5 bighas of land by Mayawati’s government in 1990s. However, till today, they are in physical possession of only three and half bighas while the rest is apparently encroached upon by some Brahmin family. They have small supplementary income from cattle rearing, through sale of milk.
Relations between the neighbours have long been strained. Nearly 20 years ago, the Thakur family had attacked Dasya’s grandfather. “They came into our field to graze their buffalos and my grandfather requested them to take the animals elsewhere as our crops would get damaged. Angered that a Dalit could tell them this, they attacked him with a knife- like object. When my grandfather tried to protect his neck, the knife cut away his fingers,” Dasya’s brother said.1
Vir, the police chief, said Ravi had been involved in the attack on Dasya’s grandfather, while Sandeep had a history of “high alcohol consumption”. Ravi’s father confirmed that he had been jailed in connection with the attack on Dasya’s grandfather.2
However, there was neither a conflict nor any incidence of fight that had occurred between the families of the accused and Dasya during last two decades. The brutal assault of September 14th was therefore totally unexpected and unwarranted for the whole family.
On the day of September 14th, 2020, Dasya went to the field as usual with her mother and brother Satyendra Kumar for fetching grass for the cattle. Satyendra returned home with a bundle of grass, leaving the women alone. Dasya was dragged to a farm belonging to accused family, about 50 feet away but inside standing crops of Bajra by the men, as was later narrated by Dasya. On finding her missing, Dasya’s mother went on a desperate search and was totally shocked to find her body uncovered, wounded, bleeding on the ground. Screaming, her mother covered her body with a part of her Saree and found a boy nearby to send a message to Dasya’s brother, Satyendra. He rushed to the spot on a bike and the body was taken to the Chandpa police station and then to the Balga Hospital in Hathras.
The family is aware of the accused, Sandeep, Ravi, Ram, Lavkush from the upper caste Thakur family, staying in front of them in the same lane of the village, as those who are used to drinking &intoxication. They were with Lavkush, their relative and all the four were involved in rape & assaulting Dasya. They strangulated her resulting in serious neurological disability, her spinal cord affected and she was unable to move her body, which had almost become paralytic. She couldn’t speak & was unconscious.
Dasya was brought to the Balga Hospital but the doctors were not briefed by police nor did any policeman or official did any investigation as per all the family members, Dasya’s mother, brother, father, sister-in- law (Bhabhi) and Bhabhi’s brother. This was absolutely necessary for any further investigation and action under section 375 of IPC as is known to the administration but not carried out.
Almost nothing happened in 24 hours and she was again shifted to Aligarh hospital when she was still almost unconscious and her tongue was bitten and broken not allowing her to speak a word. It was in Aligarh JLNMCH hospital, the relatives heard, the doctors exclaiming that they didn’t know from where had the case been brought to them and for what! The family since the beginning felt that the doctors and employees there were under enormous pressure! They did give the basic treatment and everyone from the family was of course most worried about Dasya’s struggle for survival and nothing else at that moment.
Dasya came to a little consciousness for some time after a day or two and narrated her story to her mother, taking names of the four culprits, referring to rape and brutal assault too. The family members who were no doubt worried about their prestige, without giving any evidence of ego or arrogance, couldn’t keep quiet. They called the doctors, sisters, and relatives of other patients, present in the ward too… and the reality came into the public domain.
Dasya came into some consciousness, yet not fully, when the Aligarh hospital, appearing to her family members as trying to get rid of the case by transferring to another hospital. The doctors there had categorically referred to AIIMS and not any other. The family too agreed and they could never protest or nor suggest anything to the powerful in any case. The whole systemic force was active around them with no space to manoeuvre, nor much support.
The supporters who reached out to the family and official members who could attend to them included the collector and all officials in Hathras, … but none of the higher ups in the state administration from Lucknow. The members of Parliament from the same constituency, who too belongs to a Dalit community was not vocal in favour of the victim, rather he gave an unclear statement. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekar Azad visited Dasya at the Aligarh hospital after evading the police on the evening of September 27.
It was Shyoraj Jivan known to be a staunch defender of dalit rights, and a leading activist from Valmiki Samaj came to not just meet, console and give immediate support but also to be active in the long-term legal battle which is unavoidable in such cases and the politics. He has been active at the national level and with Valmiki community. He got furious to hear the story and the history.
Some doctors in Aligarh were of the opinion that Dasya should not be moved till she became conscious. The family too refused, realising that it was risky to shift her far in that condition. She was in severe pain and couldn’t move her neck or back due to severe nervous injury affecting the spine. The false allegation that Dasya’s family didn’t permit the administration to take her to AIIMS does therefore stand exposed and countered. Why this allegation again? It is however, shocking that the doctors, who must have checked her whole body, didn’t examine anything related to sexual assault, nor did they enquire with her family till she herself brought out the truth. This passage, rather wastage, of time could be deliberate since late examination couldn’t ever prove rape. The intention obviously could be to miss or lose evidence forever. A copy of the Medico Legal Case report, which was not made available to the family immediately, mentions penetration of vagina by penis as well as the report from the Forensic department of the same University which rules out this possibility are attached.
The statement recorded of Dasya, however, is her dying declaration as per law and nothing else. It is, therefore, obvious that the police had to take the four accused into custody. For this too, they had to hunt a lot until someone reported their hiding in a nearby village. With a large population aggressive and arrogant but active role of their caste was known from the statements.
By then, it had come out that Dasya was being harassed by the accused men from the family, Sandeep and others since past 6 months. She was once pulled by him near the field but had escaped. The family, however, was very categorical in refusing to accept the false story of some communication as also relation between Sandeep and Dasya who were in touch through phones and therefore she was killed by her own family, which was honour killing! They, especially, the women, Dasya’s mother, sister and Bhabhi appeared to be pained even when they had to hear the same and respond to questions from the media as well as supporters.
Shyoraj Jivan was one who spoke out in anguish and anger and made a statement to some media in the same mood that if anyone happens to look at Dalit girls with wrong intention, his eyes would be popped out! We hear such kind of statements by many in politics that is violent especially when is based on casteism and communalism that goes unpunished! However, Shyoraj Jivan was arrested and is still in jail. None of the Dasya’s family members approved Shyoraj Jivan’s statement threatening violence but they certainly feel that their only supporter from Valmiki community, to which they belong, is kept away as a conspiracy.
Meanwhile other controversies over supporters too have arisen. One, of Dr. Jyoti Bansal, who, as an Ambedkarite, felt a need to reach out to Hathras and console as well as strengthen Dasya’s family’s will to stand up and fight for justice. She has been active on social issues and progressive people from Jabalpur are not surprised that she decided to reach out so far… “When she spoke to Babuji (father), he felt highly consoled. We could find him interacting with her and coming out of depression to an extent. We, therefore, requested her to stay back and she did. She also stayed for the second night on our insistence and changed the atmosphere in the hours, in spite of a large police force surrounding us for 24×7 and outsiders continuing to visit and question. When these are the facts, we feel sad that she is blamed as a Naxal.” Dasya’s Bhabhi, who is educated and articulate, said to us, with sadness in her breaking voice.
Another unjustifiable action taken recently, after stopping and manhandling Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi on their way to the victim’s family, which is an act in the series of actions, criminalising dissent and strangulating opposition in ‘democratic’ India. Thereafter arrest of 3 active leaders of Union of working journalists from Kerala was also condemnable since we found police force not so aggressive or repressive during our visit although the questions raised outside and before the High Court in Uttar Pradesh regarding “illegal detention” imposed on the Dasya’s family might have compelled the UP administration to behave… The police to collector… all serving the Chief of Uttar Pradesh appear to have been served dictates, as known from our direct and indirect interaction with them, through various ways and means!
Another important phase commenced with Dasya taken to Safdarjung Hospital instead of AIIMS. “We were told, when asked, that AIIMS and Safdarjung are the same. We couldn’t argue as we are not educated nor knowledgeable about Delhi and the medical services.”
Dasya was treated inside. They told the family that she was in ICU but there was no one to explain them, console them and they didn’t hear about the police investigation while they were much harassed, with questions asked; with no answers given to their queries.
The family remembered how Dasya’s father was called to the District Magistrate in Hathras and questioned about the incidence. More than listening to his replies, an unclear message given to him on the very next day of the incidence that he and the family should convey to all about their being satisfied with the enquiry and the treatment both. This itself conveys the state was preparing to suppress the truth and close the case forever. Things changed after the civil society and a group of courageous media started raising the issue and bringing out the truth. No doubt the judiciary also had to hear, if not do justice, with due urgency, when the common citizens, not just activists also started reacting to the brutalities as well as the State’s misleading deeds and statements.
At the Safdarjung hospital, when Dasya succumbed to her injuries, all the family members sitting outside were simply informed by the police and made to face utter distress, grief and pain. Their consent was sought for Post Mortem process and nothing else was shared. They were then called and shown the body put inside the mortuary as to assure safety. None realised that the body in the hands of the administration, wherever stored, was unsafe. The shocking news a few hours later was that the police had taken away the body for cremation, without seeking their consent or opinion!
Whatever happened after this, the police sent the family in a van to Hathras but having stopped the vehicle away from the cremation ground, the women vehemently crying tried to stop and knock at the police vans but in vain. They wanted possession of Dasya’s body for their relatives, many of whom were yet to arrive, as also for other concerned since the brutal incidence was already in public debate and discussion on social as well as mainstream media. This was turned down by the police, who instead had cordoned the area of cremation and absolutely denied them any right or humane response to their demand for the body to perform final rites.
After a lot of public outrage and protests started happening at many places, the Uttar Pradesh Government announced the 25 lakh rupees compensation to the victim’s family. Though the unconfirmed update is that the father has received only 8-10 lakh rupees which one is supposed to get after registration of the case under SC/ST (PoA) Act, but when the Fact-Finding team were talking to the family, they said that they don’t want money and haven’t checked their accounts. “The money is of no use, if we don’t get justice”, said the family. On the same, the Allahabad High Court order says that if the family doesn’t accept it then DM should keep it in separate account and think how to best use it.
This act of administration-government was criticised by even Bhartiya Janta Party leaders like Uma Bharti who said that cremation without the presence of family members was against Hindu customs. Arvind Kejriwal made the most poignant comment that first it was four accused who raped Dasya and then the entire system raped her. Calling the incident “shameful and blasphemous”, BSP leader Mayawati last week asked the Adityanath government to pay attention.
There is no doubt that the police of Uttar Pradesh behaved in a highly suspicious as well as vicious manner, beyond anyone’s expectation and they have, thereby created all doubts about their intentions. The reasoning, which the state government was compelled to present, when there was condemnation coming in from all quarters, was that they wished to avoid violence by getting rid of the body. None can believe this as the police can’t, themselves, declare their inability to protect victim and to prevent any untoward incidence. Rather such an awfully inhuman and criminal act on the part of the state with no repentance, nor any response to our serious questions or legal challenge, has proved that the state itself wanted to suppress the issue with casteist, manuvadi and inhuman anti-woman elements exposed through this and other incidences in Unnao, Balarampur, or Azamgarh cases, before and after.
All this and much more has brought out the violent to vulgar politics in Uttar Pradesh which is protecting and promoting all such sections of population such as the upper caste oppressive forces, that are blatantly violating legal, Constitutional and human rights. In this case too, the matter before the Court through various petitions, need to be taken up.
[Note: The team visited Bulgarhi village (Hathras, Uttar Pradesh) and met the family and relatives of victim on 9th October, 2020.]
1. Press Releases by Hathras Police and Chandpa Police Station
2. Referral Slip, Medical Examination Reports, and Letter for recording Dying Declaration by Hospitals
3. Pictures taken during Fact-Finding team visit
4. Pictures of Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha