Members of the so-called upper castes in Hathras are holding a meeting today in support of the men arrested for the gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old from Scheduled Castes, which has triggered countrywide outrage. BJP Leader Rajveer Singh Pehelwan, at whose home the meet will be held, said he is involved “in a personal capacity”. The family of one of the four men accused is also present at the meeting, sources said.
The woman had died at a Delhi hospital on September 29. The Yogi Adityanath government is under pressure over the police handling of the case, which included a 2 am cremation of the woman’s body, while her family was kept locked up.
Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena told NDTV that he was not aware of the ongoing meet. . “There is no pressure on the victim’s family. Political leaders can meet the family in groups of five,” he added.
“We have informed the police about the meet. A First Information Report should be filed against the family of the woman (victim). The accused have been falsely targeted,” one of the organisers said.
A gathering of so-called upper caste men was also held on Friday near the village where the woman lived.
Large gatherings remain banned in the district amid public outrage over the brutality the woman faced, in which many have found parallel to the Nirbhaya case from eight years ago. Technically, today’s meet does not need police permission as it is being held at a private residence.
On Thursday, Congress’s Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped by the police while they were on way to meet the family in Hathras.
On Saturday, they made another attempt, which was briefly stopped midway with a clash between Congress workers and Uttar Pradesh police at the toll plaza on the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) Flyover.
“No force can silence us,” Mr Gandhi told the media after the meeting with the family.
Today, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is on way to Hathras to meet the family.