The body of a 35-year-old Dalit woman, who had gone missing on 4 February and was raped, abandoned, and found in a critical state six days later, was moved in the middle of the night on Sunday, 20 February, from Jaipur to her native village in Nagaur district amid heavy police presence.
The victim's family, who had refused to cremate her body and had demanded Rs 50 lakh as compensation and government jobs for her children, claimed that the body was forcibly moved from the mortuary in Jaipur.
Geegraj Jodli, a Dalit activist who was with the family at the time, was quoted as saying by The Indian Express, "At around 3 am, 200-300 jawans held us forcibly and moved the body. The police were barbaric."
Dalit Man Arrested, Juvenile Detained
Meanwhile, the Nagaur Police has arrested a Dalit man, identified as Suresh Meghwal, and detained a juvenile for the rape and murder of the woman.
The police said Meghwal had raped the woman, and later, with the help of the juvenile, strangled her. They abandoned her in the forest thinking she was dead.
The two accused have been booked for offences including gang rape. The juvenile has also been booked under sections of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
BJP Stages Stir Against Congress Govt
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had been protesting against the Congress-led government in Rajasthan over the incident, alleging the involvement of "politically influential people."
The victim's family had reportedly said on Saturday that a local Congress worker from the Jat community, Aaydan Ram Dara, who is also a member of the Deedwana Panchayat Samiti, was involved in the incident.
A relative of the victim said that the woman was taken to "some other location" and later dumped at the spot where she was found.
As per The Indian Express, the relative said, “We don’t believe that Suresh is completely innocent but we think that Aaydan is also involved... She may have been taken to some other location and later dumped at the spot where she was found. It is difficult to believe that she was lying there for six days.”
However, Suresh's uncle Nanuram claimed that Aaydan had threatened his nephew of "dire consequences" if Suresh gave the police any information of him, according to The Indian Express. He also added that Suresh used to work for Aaydan as a labourer.
He said, “My nephew is innocent and has been framed. On 5 February evening, Aaydan came to our house with several people and threatened Suresh and family. He abused us with casteist slurs and said there will be dire consequences if Suresh takes Aaydan’s name before the police. Police tortured Suresh to extract his confession.”
Nagaur Superintendent of Police (SP) Ram Moorty Joshi, meanwhile, was reported as saying that they had to deploy massive force to move the body due to the rising tensions.
Joshi added that they moved her body from Jaipur as part of "general procedure."
According to The Indian Express, he added, "When families refuse to take a body, it is transferred from Jaipur to the mortuary of the district concerned."
The woman, who had been rescued on 10 February, passed away in Jaipur on 17 February while undergoing treatment.
Earlier, two Nagaur police officials were also suspended for taking six days to locate the woman and failing to use her call details to do so.
Late on Sunday night, the Nagaur district administration said that an agreement had been reached with the family and the protest was called off.
According to The Indian Express, Nagaur district collector Peeyush Samariya said, "It has been agreed that the investigation will be done under the monitoring of the ADG Crime and the family will be given a financial package as per the provisions of the SC/ST Act."
Further, Dalit activist Jodli said that the body would be handed over to the family, who would most likely cremate her on Monday.
(With inputs from The Indian Express.)