No words. No phrases. Nothing. There is no string of words that can be written in the form of a sentence to describe the sick, inhuman, barbaric gangrape of the 19-year old girl in Hathras.
DALIT. GANG RAPED. TONGUE CUT OFF. SPINAL CORD BROKEN. PARALYZED. LUNGS SHATTERED. NECK BROKEN.
Can human beings do these? Are humans beings capable of such remorseless acts of crime? Maybe only humans beings can.
While the incident happened on September 14, the girl regained consciousness a week later in the Aligarh hospital, where she was on a ventilator. The chief medical superintendent of the hospital had said last week, “All her limbs are paralysed because of the spinal cord being injured. She is critical at the moment.”
Yesterday, after two weeks, she lost the battle finally.
Her mother keeps thinking about the morning of September 14, about going with her daughter to a field nearby to cut grass for their cows, about the desperate search on realising she was missing, about finding her battered and bleeding just 100 metres away, about hailing an e-rickshaw to rush the 19-year-old to a district hospital, and about other questions that have been nagging her: what if she could hear better so that she could have responded to her daughter’s screams, what if they were not Dalits? Maybe her daughter would still be alive.
Based on the complaint, four upper-caste men of the woman’s village in Hathras district have been charged with gangrape and attempt to murder, apart from under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. All four have been arrested.
“I was sitting 100 metres from her. I could have saved her. I wish I wasn’t hard of hearing,” laments the broken mother, sitting outside their home.
The family says the main accused, 20-year-old Sandeep, and his family, who live nearby, have “always harassed Dalits in their area”. This was not the first incident. Nearly two decades ago, Sandeep’s grandfather had been booked under the SC/ST Act and served three months in prison for allegedly thrashing the victim’s grandfather over a petty issue.
Of the 600-odd families in the village, nearly half are Thakur, say district officials, while Brahmins make up another 100. Only 15-odd families are Dalit, who have been regularly subject to harassment and have been ‘shown their place’ often.
The morning of September 14, the mother, her son and daughter had gone to collect fodder, but the woman had sent her son away. “Around 9:45 am, I turned around and saw my daughter wasn’t there. I thought she had gone home but then I saw her pink slippers. We searched for some time and then found her near a tree.”
The 19-year-old was lying in a pool of blood, which oozed out of her mouth and neck and eyes. The family says her dupatta was tied around her neck. The district hospital where they took her told them that she needed to be shifted to Aligarh.
According to the family, the woman told them “Sandeep ne kiya (Sandeep did this to me)”.
The woman’s brother, who works as a labourer, filed a complaint against Sandeep. The 20-year-old, his uncle Ravi and his friend Luv Kush have been arrested, a fourth accused, Ramu, has been arrested.
The brother says the incident of 19 years ago had left rancour between the families, “but nothing ever happened”. “They are upper castes and have always called us names. We ignore them. Sandeep is an alcoholic who harasses women, but nobody ever files a complaint.”
The mother had said that after the incident, the 19-yr old said that Sandeep and Ravi had threatened her earlier as well and threatened her to keep quiet. Crying that she wished her daughter had told them earlier, she says, “They had tried to abduct her but she ran away… She told the police she was afraid to step out of the house as Sandeep would harass her. I wish I knew. It’s too late now.”
On Tuesday morning, around 7 am, her 28-year-old brother’s phone rang. It was a call the family had been dreading for days. “It was my father, he said she was dead… Just like that, my sister is gone. We were up all night, praying for her recovery,” he said, crying. The rape victim subject to inhuman torture had been moved from an Aligarh hospital to Delhi the day before.
A senior doctor at Safdarjung Hospital said she had been brought in on Monday at 3.39 pm. At 5.30 am Tuesday, she suffered a cardiac arrest. “She was declared dead at 6.15 am.”
Following the incident, as the news spread via social media, protesters gathered at the Safdarjung Hospital. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad met the woman’s father, while the Congress held protests in Delhi and Lucknow. The family only left with the body for Hathras in the evening, after protesting with officials to meet their demands. The police cordoned off all roads leading to the family’s village fearing sparks of violence and outrage.
Waiting for the body of the teenager, the youngest of her five children, at their Hathras home, the woman’s mother cried that she hadn’t been able to be with her in her last moments. “I met her last a few days ago… She said she wanted to come back home, missed her nephews and nieces… Since she had regained consciousness, I thought she would survive,” she told The Indian Express.
The teenager’s parents and two brothers work as farm labourers, while her two sisters are married and live in other villages. “I want them to be publicly hanged…What have they done to my daughter, my family?” cried the mother.
The 19-yr old did not even get the respect of a proper funeral. The family claimed that her body was taken away by the police in the middle of the night for final rites and forcefully cremated. “The police have forcibly taken the dead body and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police,” the woman’s brother told news agency PTI.
The body of the woman reached her village around midnight and the cremation was done by 3 am on Wednesday. The villagers claimed that they wanted to take the body of the woman to her house, but administration pressed for cremation at the earliest. The passage for an ambulance was blocked and finally, cremation took place in the village.
Her death has sparked major outrage across social media. From politicians to actors to cricketers, people have taken to Twitter to express their frustration at such an act of cruelty.
Delhi CM Kejriwal that “The death of Hathras victim is shameful for the entire society, country as well as for all the governments”. He also added that “It is highly sad that so many daughters are being sexually assaulted and we have not been able to protect them”.Indian team captain Virat Kohli commented that the incident was “inhumane and beyond cruel”, as he demanded justice for the victim. Actress Kangana Ranaut went a step further demanding public shooting of the rapists.
Maybe a fast track court will be set up, maybe justice will be swift, maybe the accused will be hanged soon, but nothing, nothing will change the fact that the girl of just nineteen battled two weeks for her life in a ventilator, before finally giving up.
Nothing will change the fact that she was GANG RAPED. HER TONGUE CUT OFF. SPINAL CORD BROKEN. PARALYZED. LUNGS SHATTERED. NECK BROKEN. MURDERED.