The body of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was raped and murdered, allegedly by four upper-caste men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras, was cremated a little after 3 am Wednesday — with her family saying police had forcibly performed the last rites late at night even though they wanted to bring her body home one last time.
“It appears that my sister has been cremated; the police are not telling us anything. We begged them to let us bring her body inside the house one last time, but they didn’t listen to us,” the woman’s brother told The Indian Express at 3.30 am Wednesday.
The woman was attacked in the process of helping her mother in the fields, she then died two weeks after the attack at had died at Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital on Tuesday. Her body only reached her village in Hathras in an ambulance around midnight.
One of her brothers said to the press: “The ambulance is on the main road; police are not letting us take the body inside the house. They have switched on the lights of the cremation ground and are forcing us to perform her last rites right now. We don’t want to cremate her in the middle of the night; we want to take her home.”
At that time his father had not reached the villages, he was still in Delhi. “What is the rush? Our father hasn’t even reached home,” he had said.
Two hours later, videos and photos from the village showed a lone pyre and no family members near it. At 3.30 am, her brother said, “Police started being aggressive when we refused to cremate her. When my relatives tried to see what the police were doing, they kicked us, broke one of our relative’s bangles. Out of fear, we have locked ourselves in. Why are they doing this?”
Videos also showed the victim’s mother pleading with police officials to let the body be brought home one last time.
Prem Prakash Meena, the Joint Magistrate of Hathras, meanwhile told ANI, “The last rites of the victim have been performed. Police and administration will ensure that the perpetrators of the crime are brought to justice.”
At 2.16 am, the Hathras Police had tweeted that the cremation will be done “as per the wishes of the family”.