A dried-up tulsi plant holds out hope to Hathras victim’s family | India News


HATHRAS: About 200km from Delhi, the mother of the 19-year-old Dalit girl who was allegedly “raped and murdered” in Hathras district over two years ago looks at a tulsi plant in the mud-floored courtyard of the house. “This was planted by my daughter and it is all that we have to remember her by,” she said. The leaves on the plant have dried up and are crusty. But the 55-year-old woman believes that it will once again spring to life and grow green leaves. “We have to hope,” she said. “How will we fight otherwise? That’s all we have.”
That’ll take something though. Just four days ago, three of the four upper caste men accused of the crime were let off by a local court. The fourth was held guilty — but not for rape or murder — of culpable homicide.
The distraught father and brother of the victim told TOI on Saturday: “Do you think this would’ve happened had it been the other way around, we were upper caste and they Dalit?”


They have no monthly source of income now and the promise by the authorities of a government job to a kin remains unfulfilled. They want to move to Delhi, fearing harm. They wish to move the case, too, outside UP and hope that the Allahabad HC will accept their plea. “We’ve been wronged,” the father said. “We’ll fight in a higher court… Bas nyay mil jaye (All we want is justice).”
When TOI visited the family in the Hathras village, the father of the dead girl told this correspondent: “We have literally been jailed in our own house. For our protection, they say.” Around 30 CRPF personnel guard them — with guns and tear gas launchers — even as there are barbed wire fences around the house. A metal detector beeps to life every now and then and CCTVs keep a constant, unblinking watch.
All visitors are stopped a safe distance away; vehicle numbers, mobile numbers, email IDs are noted down. After the identity of the guests has been verified and established, they are grudgingly allowed access to the house and those living in it. Conversations are conducted in the presence of a CRPF person. Inside, posters with alphabets and numbers hang on the walls of the two-room house, a cruel reminder of school and education to the three young girls in the family who have had to drop out. They haven’t seen their friends or their classrooms since 2020. They are not allowed to step out.
Before the gruesome crime, two of the victim’s brothers worked in Ghaziabad and Noida respectively, while the father had a job at a pathology lab in Hathras. All of that is gone too.
The victim’s younger brother said, “I, along with my elder brother and father, used to earn nearly Rs 40,000 per month. The incident left us without employment. Last year in July, the Supreme Court had directed the UP government to consider a job for a family member in three months. Nothing has happened since.”
The Dalit family’s lawyer, Seema Kushwaha, has said they will appeal in the high court. “I have full faith that the other three (who have been acquitted by the lower court) will also be convicted. It is strange that the CBI had filed chargesheet under 376-D (gang rape) and 302 (murder) among other stringent sections. Yet this.”
In December 2020, the CBI registered the charge sheet against the four upper caste men and slammed the UP police for “inaction, delay and not following adequate procedure in recording the victim’s statement”. It had then noted: “Though the victim alleged molestation, her medical examination regarding sexual assault was not conducted… (she) categorically stated that she was gang-raped by the aforesaid four accused persons. She had also named them in her dying declaration recorded on 22.09.2020…”
The girl later died in Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital and Hathras authorities had allegedly forcibly cremated the body that very night while keeping away the aggrieved family members whose request to take the body home for one last time was ignored.
Across, family members of the three acquitted men have been sent to relatives’ houses, following “advice” from senior cops. Thakurs are the largest community in the village, with 450 registered voters, while Brahmins are the second biggest group, with about half the Thakur population. The Valmikis, the community to which the victim belonged, are minuscule in comparison, with just three families, all connected to each other. In a corner of the house, the victim’s ashes are kept in an urn. Pointing to it, her sister-in-law said, “We will not immerse that in the Ganga till all the accused are convicted. Such brutality can’t go unpunished.”
Watch Hathras case: Court convicts key accused, acquits three of all charges

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