A Trinamool Congress delegation was stopped from meeting the victim’s family and its members alleged they were pushed around by officials.
“In view of the current situation, no political representatives or media personnel would be allowed entry into the village till the SIT (Special Investigation Team) completes its probe,” Hathras Additional Superintendent of Police Prakash Kumar told reporters.
The Yogi Adityanath government continued to draw flak over the alleged gang-rape and the subsequent death of the 19-year-old woman.
Samajwadi Party workers took out a protest in Lucknow, and were lathi-charged by police. There were protests also in Aligarh, Mathura and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh.
Students, civil rights activists and political workers gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in the evening. Several political leaders, including from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Left, joined the protest.
In Hathras district, a group of Trinamool Congress MPs was stopped one and half kilometers from the victim’s home, a party statement said.
Derek O’Brien, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar and Pratima Mandal, and former MP Mamata Thakur travelled in separate cars to avoid detection and met up 25 km ahead of Hathras, party sources said.
They managed to enter the victim’s village, but were unable to meet the family.
The group alleged that O’Brien fell to the ground after being pushed and Mandal was manhandled by an official. The MPs later filed a police complaint and also held a dharna.
A day earlier, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were detained by UP Police in Greater Noida while they were on their way to Hathras.
The woman was allegedly gang-raped in a brutal assault on September 14 that left her with severe injuries. She died at Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday. Four men have been arrested.
She was cremated in the middle of the night with family members claiming that police ignored their pleas to bring the body home one last time.
The hurried cremation triggered further outrage over the episode. On Friday, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath warned that his government will make an example of those who commit crimes on women.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said those who even think of hurting a woman’s self-respect will face “total destruction”.
उत्तर प्रदेश में माताओं-बहनों के सम्मान-स्वाभिमान को क्षति पहुंचाने का विचार मात्र रखने वालों का समूल नाश सुनिश्चित… https://t.co/OaVE1Ojq0b
— Yogi Adityanath (@myogiadityanath) 1601632910000
Hours later, the state government announced the suspension of Hathras SP Vikrant Vir, circle officer Ramshabd and three others on the basis of a preliminary report submitted by the SIT looking into the case.
In Delhi, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra took part in a prayer meeting by the Valmiki community at their temple in central Delhi.
“Each and every woman of this country should raise her voice against what has happened to the woman in Hathras,” she said.
On Twitter, she welcomed the Allahabad High Court order summoning top Uttar Pradesh officials in connection with the Hathras episode.
“The entire nation is demanding justice for the Hathras rape victim. The HC order shines a ray of hope amidst the dark, inhuman and unjust treatment meted out to her family by the UP Government,” she said.
Also on Twitter, Rahul Gandhi shared a video clip of a child who alleged that members of the victim’s family were beaten up and threatened by the authorities.
“The UP government has taken to brutality to cover up the truth. Neither us, nor the media is being allowed to meet the victim’s family. Neither are they allowed to come out. On top of this, the family members of the victim are being beaten up and brutalized,” he said.
In Chandigarh, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala referred to victim’s cremation at night, saying the Yogi Adityanath government should “hang its head in shame”.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also criticised the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, saying Hindu traditions don’t allow cremation at night. “Her family was not even allowed to have a last glimpse of her,” he said.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot condemned the detention of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi on Thursday.
“Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the entire administration have left no stone unturned to suppress the voice of the opposition,” the former Rajasthan deputy chief minister said in Jaipur.