UN urges justice in Indian gang rape case

University students take part in a protest march after the death of a rape victim in Kolkata on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 October 2020

UN urges justice in Indian gang rape case

  • Reports have emerged that the local district magistrate threatened the girl’s father to change his statement
  • The incident, involving a lower caste Dalit woman from India’s most socially and economically marginalized community

NEW DELHI: The UN asked for quick justice on Monday in a case where a 19-year-old woman was allegedly gang raped and murdered three weeks ago.
The main opposition party in the Indian National Congress has held nationwide protests demanding a court-driven probe into the incident.
“It is essential that authorities ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice speedily, and families are empowered to seek timely justice, social support, counseling, health care and rehabilitation,” the UN said in a statement.
The alleged crime took place on Sept. 14 in the Boolgarhi village of Hathras district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.
The UN added: “The recent cases of alleged rape and murder in Hathras and Balarampur are another reminder that, despite the impressive progress made on several social indicators, women and girls from disadvantaged social groups face additional vulnerabilities and are at greater risk of gender-based violence.”
The call for action was issued as mass protests broke out across the country, with the Congress seeking a “judicial inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge,” according to Congress member Sushmita Dev.
It follows an announcement by the Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday that the incident would be investigated by the central government’s premier investigative agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“Since Sept. 14, it is proved that the whole administration of the state government, all the officers are involved in suppressing the facts,” Dev said.
“We also saw how a particular caste group is threatening the victim’s family, and the local administration is a mute witness. The CBI inquiry has been ordered under pressure from the opposition. The judicial enquiry is only way out,” she added.
The incident, involving a lower caste Dalit woman from India’s most socially and economically marginalized community, has touched a raw nerve following reports that she was brutally gang raped, resulting in a broken spine and her tongue being cut out. After two weeks in the hospital, she died from her injuries on Sept. 29.

FASTFACT

Mass protests turn violent after officials accused of destroying evidence.

A day later, police cremated the body without family consent, raising suspicions of foul play and an alleged attempt to protect the four accused, who are from the upper caste sections of society.
After the hasty cremation, police officials sealed off the entire village for two days, before confiscating the mobile phones of the victim’s family and barring journalists from entering the village.
Reports have emerged that the local district magistrate also threatened the girl’s father to change his statement.
“We don’t trust the intentions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s government and the way it has been behaving since the beginning of the incident. Its only intention is to protect the upper caste people who belong to Adityanath’s caste,” said Kavita Krishnan, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.
On Monday, more than 2,000 people from civil society groups gathered at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar area, a famous protest site in the capital, and burned an effigy of Adityanath.
“Adityanath is openly trying to protect the accused and denying the rape and attempted murder of the young girl, despite the fact the girl in her statement has openly said she was raped by upper-caste men,” Krishnan said.
“This is not only gender-based violence, but also caste-based violence. The chief minister is promoting the caste supremacists in the area and allowing them to threaten the family.
“The way the state government has allowed evidence to be destroyed by the hurried cremation of the body and Adityanath’s signaling to his caste men to come out openly in favor of the accused threatens the whole notion of fair investigation. If the caste violence breaks out it has potential to spread to other places, considering the composition of villages in western Uttar Pradesh where only a few lower-caste families live in predominantly upper-caste villages,” Krishnan added.
On Sunday, several members from the upper-caste community in the village launched a counter-campaign and held a meeting at the home of a former legislator of Hathras from the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party.
The group demanded “justice for all four accused.”
“I feel the way the media has taken up the issue is completely wrong. The media has launched an open trial. The whole state has been put under shame for raising the wrong issue continuously,” BJP member and former legislator Rajveer Singh Pahalwan told Arab News.
He added that the media has “already convicted the accused without investigation and trial.”
Pahalwan said: “Under intense political pressure all four have been detained.”
Police resorted to using batons on party leaders trying to meet the victim’s family, citing the need to follow coronavirus measures.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has also accused the opposition of trying to incite “caste violence.”
He said in a statement in the state capital Lucknow: “Those who do not like development want to incite caste and communal riots in the country and state, and want to stop development.”


Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

Updated 5 min 51 sec ago

Hong Kong leader: National security law has been ‘effective’

  • Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June
  • ‘One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos’
HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said Wednesday that the city’s new national security law has been “remarkably effective in restoring stability” after months of political unrest, and that bringing normalcy back to the political system is an urgent priority.
Lam made the comments in her annual policy address, more than a month after it was postponed so that she could seek Beijing’s support for various economic measures aimed at reviving the semi-autonomous Chinese territory’s economy.
Beijing imposed the national security law on Hong Kong in June, aiming to crack down on dissent following months of anti-government protests in the city that at times descended into violence. Last year’s protests were triggered by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to the mainland. The proposal was eventually scrapped.
“Advocacies of Hong Kong independence and collusions with external forces have progressively subsided, some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile, radical organizations have ceased operations or dissolved,” Lam said in her address.
“After a year of social unrest with fear for personal safety, Hong Kong people can once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law,” she said.
Lam also criticized foreign governments for interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, saying it had jeopardized national security.
Beijing has in recent months taken a tougher stance on dissent in Hong Kong, sparking concerns over the possible end of the “one country, two systems” framework under which Hong Kong has been operating since it was handed over to China by Britain in 1997.
Earlier this month, China passed a resolution disqualifying four pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers after they were accused of violating their oaths of office. The move prompted all of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy legislators to resign en masse as a show of solidarity.
Lam said that Hong Kong has experienced one of its most severe political challenges over the past year.
“One of our urgent priorities is to restore Hong Kong’s constitutional order and political system from chaos,” she said.
She said the government would introduce a bill by the end of this year to amend local laws related to oath-taking, to “deal with those who have engaged in conduct that breaches the oath of the swearing-in.”