India once again failed Dalit women & girls in upholding their safety & rights; we have lost another young life to a savage, brutal gang rape & murder. This barbaric incident occurred on September 14 in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh & once again exposed the harsh realities of caste-based sexual assault faced by Dalit women and girls in this country.

Level of brutality and inhumanity continues even after the demise of the victim, as the UP (Uttar Pradesh) police forcibly cremated the body in the early morning around 3 am on September 30. The victim’s body was burnt by the police against the will of the family members, not letting them take her home one final time. Besides this, the police locked the family members & the locals inside the house as per the statement of the family members of the deceased.

UP (Uttar Pradesh) has witnessed several cases of atrocities against Dalit women, with Lakhimpur Khiri leading in the graph of violence. In the past sixty days, more than 6 atrocities were reported in the district against Dalit women and minor girls. Similarly, in Saharanpur district, 6 cases of abduction & rape have been reported where the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) has intervened.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau’s report of 2018, UP (Uttar Pradesh) tops the list of number of crimes committed against Dalits, including Dalit women. Also, UP has recorded the maximum number of cases of rape (526), attempt to rape (48), incidences of kidnap and abduction of Dalit women (381), and incidences of assault (711) in 2018 under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) (SC/ST [PoA]) Act. As per the compiled data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports of 2014–18, UP has witnessed the maximum number of atrocities against Dalit women in India & an increase of 15% in the number of rape cases against Dalit women during 2015–18. As many as 7,920 cases of atrocities against Dalit women have been registered under the SC/ST (PoA) Amendment Act in UP during 2014–18.

Dalit woman in Hathras has named Sandeep, alias Chandu; & Lavkush, Ravi & Ram Kumar, alias Ramu—all residents of village Bugadhi. Doctors of Aligarh Medical Hospital (AMH) have stated that she was brought in with severe trauma & a paralysed condition of the lower body because of a spinal cord injury. She was brought to Safdarjung Hospital on 28 September and breathed her last on the morning of 29 September.

We hold the police & the state responsible for their inaction to register complaints and not arresting the accused in time. Every case reveals that the state machinery has turned a blind eye towards the cases through its apathetic response, violated rights of victims to access justice and has nullified human dignity. In the Hathras case, the victim’s brother mentioned that no arrest was made by the police even after 10 days of the incident being reported. The fourth accused was arrested and sent to judicial custody only on 26 September 2020. There was no effort made by the police to provide safety and protection to the family of the deceased. This became the root cause of threatening and criminal intimidation mounted upon the survivor’s family by the accused and their community.

All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch and NDMJ call upon the state to: uphold the rights of Dalit women and minors;

strictly implement the rule of law in the state of UP and throughout India;

strictly implement the SCs and STs (POA) Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and Rules in cases of violence and discrimination against SC and ST communities, especially minors;

fast-track all cases of sexual assault on Dalit women and girls under the POA and POCSO Acts in conjunction with the Indian Penal Code sections;

follow the non-bailable offence clause under the POCSO and POA Act in letter and spirit;

provide relief and rehabilitation to survivors of caste and gender-based violence as per the POA Act;

include in the first information reports for the Lakhimpur cases the names of all the accused as identified by the survivors, and arrest all the accused;

police officials in Lakhimpur cases as well as in Hathras case under Section 4 of the SCs and STs POA Act for negligence in duty;

In Lakhimpur and Hathras cases of atrocities, provide compensation, relief and rehabilitation to the families in the Lakhimpur and Hathras cases as per the SCs and STs POA Act;

strictly follow-up on the state and district vigilance and monitoring committees in UP as well as across India.

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