New Delhi, Oct 2 (efe-epa).- Hundreds of people took to the streets in New Delhi and other cities in India on Friday to protest the rape and subsequent death of a young lower caste or “Dalit” woman whose body was cremated by the police, in a case that shocked the country and generated a major political scandal.
The demonstration in the center of New Delhi called by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is in power in the capital, and by Bhim Army, an organization that protects the rights of Dalits (also known as “untouchables”), gathered hundreds of people demanding justice for the victim.
Among those in attendance were New Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who called for those responsible to be hanged.
“They should get such a punishment that no one will dare commit a crime like this again,” Mr Kejriwal said, adding that the issue should not be politicized.
“There should be no politics on this issue. No rapes should happen in the country. All parties should come together to bring a system that protects our girls,” he said.
Today’s protests follow similar rallies that flouted bans on large gatherings because of Covid-19, which has already caused more than 6.3 million infections in India, the second most affected country in the world after the United States.
The victim, a 19-year-old girl, died Tuesday morning at a hospital in New Delhi, succumbing to her injuries that had left her medical care since Sep. 14, when she was raped by four men in Hathras, a city in Uttar Pradesh.
The young woman had gone out with her mother to the field to cut grass. After they became separated, the assailants dragged her to a hidden place, raped her and then tried to strangle her.
In the early morning of Wednesday, hours after her death, the young woman’s body was taken to her village and cremated by the police without the consent of her family, who were unable to conduct the last rites, according to the family.
They also blame the police for not responding quickly enough after the assault was reported. The authorities claim they had immediately arrested the perpetrators.
This incident of rape has once again highlighted a major and persistent problem in India.
According to the country’s National Crime Records Bureau, 33,977 rapes were reported in the country in 2018, of which 2,957 – an average of more than eight per day – involved lower caste women.
The National Human Rights Commission of India said in a statement that this incident “has raised many questions about the law and order situation in the State.”
“Many such incidents have occurred in the State of Uttar Pradesh where the members of the Scheduled Community (lower castes) have been subjected to discrimination and harassment by the people belonging to upper caste. There have been (…) allegations of inaction against the police authorities and the administration. This is a serious issue of violation of human rights,” it said. EFE-EPA