On 17 February, two girls, aged 15 and 14, belonging to the Dalit community, were found dead in a field in the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh. Another 16-year-old girl was also found from the same spot and is in critical condition in hospital. The girls were reportedly found with their hands and legs tied with their clothes. The police said it was a suspected case of poisoning.
The incident took place in Babura village under the Asoha police station. The girls on Wednesday afternoon had gone to their family farm to collect fodder for their cattle. As they didn’t return by evening, their families went searching for them and, shockingly, found them lying in the field in an unconscious state, according to police.
The police also said that a white substance was coming out of their mouth and they stated that prima facie did not find any injury marks on the girls or signs of struggle at the site where they were found. Though they said that they were yet to confirm if the girls were tied up, one of the girls’ brothers has given a statement the trio was found tied up with clothes like their chunni.
The incident has evoked widespread outrage from various sections of society. Many are taking it to social media demanding justice.
To ensure justice in Unnao case we demand
1. Post mortem of 2 deceased should be conducted at AIIMS, Delhi with a panel of Doctors including from SC/ST community.
2. Post mortem should be videographed to avoid any discrepancies
3. Survivor should immediately be shifted to AIIMS.
— Chandra Shekhar Aazad (@BhimArmyChief) February 18, 2021
Make no mistake.. horror in Unnao is the result of a culture of impunity enjoyed by criminals.. especially in cases of crimes against women.. Dalit Women.. this is what happens when you sacrifice governance to the altar of the cow, the temple & a relentless politics of bigotry.. https://t.co/lMi9aRHX6n
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) February 18, 2021
Under CM Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh is the Epicenter of Rape & Murder in India.
Adityanath is the most incompetent CM in history in controlling violence against Women. #Save_Unnao_Ki_Beti
— Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) February 18, 2021
Many said the incident could bring back the memories of the horrific Hathras gang-rape and murder case.
#Update It has been 12 hours, not a single health bulletin has been issued, the whole family has been placed under house arrest, no one is being allowed to meet, even the media persons are not being allowed to come. This incident is pointing towards #Hathras.#Save_Unnao_Ki_Beti
— The Dalit Voice (@ambedkariteIND) February 18, 2021
What happened in Hathras?
On 14 September 2020, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was gang-raped in Hathras district of Uttar Pradesh, reportedly by four upper-caste men, when she went to a farm to collect cattle fodder. The men allegedly dragged her away by dupatta around her neck injuring her spinal cord in the process. The violence left her paralysed with a severe spinal cord injury.
The girl was at first taken to the Chandpa Police Station, where the police allegedly rejected her claims and humiliated the family. After fighting for her life for two weeks, she died in a Delhi hospital. The police cremated her body without the family’s consent.
This made many raise allegations that the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government is covering up the incident and that it has failed to ensure security for women. It also has raised many questions about the law and order situation in the state.
Crimes against women in UP
Rape and sexual violence against women have been in focus in India since December 16th, 2012 gang-rape and murder of a woman in a moving bus at Delhi. That incident sparked protest across the country. On March 20, 2020, the attackers were hanged at a jail in the Indian capital.
Though the outrage following Nirbhaya’s death has paved the way for a change in India’s rape laws, there has been no drop in crimes against women.
Unnao district has been in the news for all the wrong reasons in recent years. In 2017, an 18-year-old girl alleged she was raped in the house of BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar. The girl said she had gone to meet him with a neighbour to seek his help in getting employment. As the matter escalated, the father of the victim was badly beaten by the legislator’s brother and co-accused Jaideep alias Atul Sengar and others. The video of the same surfaced online. The victim tried to set herself on fire in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence and alleged the crimes against her and her immediate and extended family. She also accused the police of having covered up the entire incident. Unfortunately, the victim’s father succumbed to his injuries.
The BJP received criticism over the fact that Sengar had remained in the party despite the serious allegations against him. However, later, he was convicted of rape.
In 2019, a woman was set on fire when she was on her way to testify against her alleged rapists. She later died of her injuries.
All these crimes against women triggered criticism against the BJP government. In July 2017, the state Assembly was informed that in the first two months of the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, 803 incidents of rape and 729 of murder were reported.
The latest incident in Unnao once again highlighted the heinous atrocities Dalit women face regularly in the state.
According to police, the bodies of the teenage girls were brought to their village after a post-mortem was done on Thursday but the last rites could not be performed on the day.
The last rites were performed in Babura village on Friday morning amid tight security arrangements.
No injuries were found on the bodies and hence the reason of the death could not be established during the post-mortem. The police officials said, they are looking into the investigation for further possibilities.
According to the hospital authorities, the death was a suspected case of poisoning.
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