Were Hathras Rape Victim’s Kin Present for Cremation? What We Know
Did the Hathras victim’s family give its consent for the cremation? The Quint breaks down the different versions.
A hapless mother pleading to take her daughter’s body home “one last time” as cops try to “advise” her to “listen” to them – the events leading to the cremation of the rape victim in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras in the dead of the night on 30 September were unusual.
But what’s more unusual was the Uttar Pradesh Police’s urgency to perform the last rites – and, as it has now emerged, without the presence of any family member.
The rape victim’s family members have alleged that they were not present at the time the pyre was lit. However, the police, government officials, and right-wing affiliated handles on social media are refuting their claims, saying the family was “very much present” during the cremation.
What Happened on the Night of 30 September
The victim’s brother narrated to The Quint the events that took place after the ambulance arrived in their village at 12:30 am. He said that the police took his sister’s body directly to the cremation ground – where the mother pleaded that they be allowed to take her body home “one last time.”
“We wanted to do it in the morning as per our Hindu rituals. We told the police that our relatives were coming. But they asked us to do the cremation right away. We assured the police that there will be no disturbance from our side,” the brother said.
The police insisted that the cremation be done immediately – without stating any reasons, he said.
He added the police even threatened arrest and humiliated the family at the cremation ground. After a lot of pleading, the police agreed to bring the body to the house, but asked them to finish all the rituals within one hour.
‘Body Brought Outside House Briefly’
The brother claimed that an ambulance carried the body and was parked behind the house. They gathered around the police car and held discussions, he said, adding that the family decided to wait inside the house.
The policemen came inside the house and started pressurising the victim’s father to accompany them again to the cremation ground, the brother alleged. The Quint was not able to independently verify if the victim’s body was brought inside the house or not.
“They told us to listen to them and that we would need their help during the course of investigation. But without our relatives, we couldn’t start the funeral. Anyway, it can’t be done in the night as per our religion. This happened around 2 am.”Victim’s brother to The Quint
‘Didn’t Think They Would Cremate Her Without Our Approval’
The brother asserted that the family was under immense pressure to start the rituals, and they decided to close the door from inside.
“Then there was too much pressure and we closed the door from inside. We said if you are not bringing her, then we are not ready to come for the cremation. Because we knew that if we go, they will tell us that the family was there. We thought they will never end up cremating her without our approval,” he narrated to The Quint.
Family’s Version: Villagers Called Upon to Pose as Relatives
The brother said that “nobody from the family went to the cremation ground” to witness the pyre, but when he saw videos on social media, he claimed that there were neighbours who posed as family members of the victim.
Speaking to NDTV, the victim’s father, too, claimed that the family was not present at the time of cremation.
“We wanted the last rites to be performed according to the Hindu traditions. Despite our protests, the cremation was performed. They took the body forcefully. We couldn't see our daughter's face for the last time," the woman’s father told NDTV.
Govt Denies, Says ‘Funeral Done With Concurrence of Family’
Speaking to The Times of India, Hathras Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena said that the cremation was done with the family’s consent and that he had videos to show their presence at the ceremony.
“When the dead body arrived, we had a conversation with the family and in concurrence, the last rights were performed with the grandfather, the uncle and four/five more family members. They were actually present during the funeral and they were the ones who initiated the last rites,” he said.
The Hathras Police, at 2:16 am on 30 September, tweeted that the cremation will be done “as per the wishes of the family.” Superintendent of Police (SP) Vikrant Veer denied any “urgency” by police in cremation to news agency PTI.
The same version was repeated by Uttar Pradesh ADGP Prashant Kumar to various TV channels on 30 September where he said the cremation was carried out hurriedly because of “law and order apprehensions” and insisted that the victim’s ‘extended family’ was present at the time.
However, the government is yet to release any video showing the presence of the uncle or grandfather through official channels.
BJP Handles Claim Family Present at Funeral, No Video Released Officially
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Haryana IT & Social Media Head Arun Yadav has shared a video of three men being present at the cremation. This has been shared by multiple handles associated with the BJP. However, the Hathras cops have not identified these men as members of the victim’s family.
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