Death of ‘Dalit’ Indian Teenager, ‘Brutally Gang-Raped by Four Men’ Sparks Political Outrage


by Dhairya Maheshwari

In the latest crime data presented by the National Crime Records, atrocities against Dalits — people from the lowest strata of India’s caste system — rose from 47,369 in 2016 to 50,325 in 2017, and over 25% in a decade.

A 19-year-old Indian girl, reportedly gang-raped by four “upper-caste” men, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh this month, succumbed to her injuries at a hospital in New Delhi on Tuesday morning.

The victim was transferred to Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital from another facility in the regional town of Aligarh. She was taken to the Aligarh hospital on 15 September, a day after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by four men on a farm in the neighbouring town of Hathras.

According to various accounts of her statement published in Hindi media outlets, the victim was dragged to the farm by her assailants who also tried to strangle her after the incident. The victim said in her statement, given to local police, that she had also bit off part of her tongue during the struggle, news agency PTI reported.

All four people named by the victim have been arrested and charged under relevant sections of the Indian penal code, including murder and carrying out atrocities against Dalit or people in the lowest strata of the caste system.

The incident sparked outrage across the Indian political spectrum as well as social media, with many prominent personalities taking potshots at the state government for rising atrocities against members of the socially underprivileged Dalit community in Uttar Pradesh. The northern state, which is India’s most populous, is governed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Lamenting the increasing occurrence of sexual assaults in the state, general secretary of India’s main opposition party, Congress, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra remarked that such incidents have sent a shiver down the spines of everyone. “The culprits should be brought to book”, Vadra wrote in a tweet in Hindi.

Questioning Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) parliamentarian Sanjay Singh demanded to know how the state authorities planned to put an end to incidents of sexual assault involving young victims.

Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, who is seen as a leader among the Dalit community, has also been attacking the state authorities over the incident.

“Despite the government’s efforts in checking atrocities against women and lower caste communities, the incidents continue to happen. One needs to question the intentions of the ruling party”, the leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) said on Twitter this week.

Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut also expressed dismay over the death of the 19-year-old victim on her Twitter account.

Shoot these rapists publicly, what is the solution to these gang rapes that are growing in numbers every year? What a sad and shameful day for this country. Shame on us we failed our daughters #RIPManishaValmiki

— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) September 29, 2020



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