Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday backed Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s decision to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) in the alleged rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Hathras. In an exclusive interview to Editor-in-Chief Rahul Joshi, Shah said the mishandling in Hathras case was at ‘thana (police station) level’ and not at the level of the government.
On being asked if there was a need to bring about larger police reforms in the country, the home minister said, “There is no denying that police reforms are the need of the hour but a rape happens in Hathras and Rajasthan at the same time, but why only the Hathras incident is played up? How correct is to do politics over such a heinous crime? The three accused in Hathras were arrested the same day and today they are in jail.”
On the cremation of the victim’s body in the middle of the night, Shah said, “There is an SIT investigating the matter, some officials were also suspended and now the entire investigation is transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation. But no one should politics over such issues.”
Denying government’s role in any kind of mishandling of the case, he said, “The government is not involved at the ‘thana level’, there are some officers at local level and I think Yogi ji did the correct thing by forming an SIT. The team will thoroughly probe the matter and submit its report, based on which strict action will be taken.”
The Hathras case pertains to the alleged rape and murder of a 20-year-old Dalit girl 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 Hathras 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 incident, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court had on October 1 summoned the top government officials.
The family members of the victim on Monday appeared before the bench, which further fixed November 2 as the next date of hearing. They were heard by the bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy. The victim’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.