Congress MP Rahul Gandhi today met the family of the nine-year-old Dalit girl allegedly raped and murdered in Delhi’s Cantonment area on Sunday, and whose body was forcibly cremated.
“I spoke with the family… they want justice and nothing else. They’re saying justice is not being given to them and that they should be helped. We will do that. I said ‘I am standing with you. Rahul Gandhi is standing with them until they get justice’,” Mr Gandhi was quoted by news agency ANI.
Shortly afterwards he tweeted: “Her parents’ tears are saying only one thing – their daughter, the daughter of this country, deserves justice. And I am with them on this path of justice.”
Mr Gandhi tweeted yesterday too, calling her “the nation’s daughter” – a pointed reference to accolades for India’s women Olympians, who have been widely referred to as “the country’s daughters” after their medal-winning exploits.
दलित की बेटी भी देश की बेटी है। pic.twitter.com/CdbWkCwePP
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 3, 2021
Meanwhile, Ingit Pratap Singh, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East Delhi), told NDTV today that the postmortem was inconclusive. The four men accused of the crime will now face polygraph (lie detector) and narcotics (drug) tests, he said.
Mr Singh also said an examination of the water cooler found an electric current was passing through the machine; this appears to support the accused’s claims – that the girl died of an electric shock.
“Forensic examination of the water cooler found an electric current… In the beginning, the girl’s family said death was due to electrocution. Accused have also admitted death occurred due to electric current,” the senior cop told NDTV, adding that tests will also be conducted on the accused’s clothes.
“We will present the charge sheet very soon… there is a time of 60 days to present it,” he said.
On Sunday evening the young girl – from an economically backward family and a member of a minority community routinely marginalised and subject to shocking abuses – had gone to the crematorium near her home to fetch drinking water from a cooler but never returned.
Around 6 pm, locals who knew the cremation ground priest, Radheshyam, called her mother to the crematorium and showed her the body. They claimed she had been electrocuted in an accident; there were burn marks on the wrist and elbow and the lips were blue, her mother had said.
The priest and his companions then told the mother not to inform the police.
Filing a case would mean postmortem, during which the organs will be stolen, they said, suggesting an immediate cremation. Some locals speculate the parents were paid money as incentive.
Later, however, the parents raised an alarm and the police was informed.
Public fury has exploded over the horrific incident – the latest to spotlight frighteningly high levels of sexual violence in the country – triggering protests by civil society groups and activists, as well as opposition leaders who have targeted Home Minister Amit Shah (to whom Delhi Police reports).
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Trinamool MP Abhishek Banerjee are among those to have slammed Mr Shah and demand he be held to account for this and other gruesome crimes.
दिल्ली, नांगल में नाबालिग बच्ची के साथ हुई घटना दर्दनाक एवं निंदनीय है। सोचिए क्या बीत रही होगी उसके परिवार पर?
दिल्ली में कानून व्यवस्था के जिम्मेदार गृहमंत्री जी यूपी सर्टिफिकेट बांटने गए थे, लेकिन खुद की जिम्मेदारी नहीं संभाल पा रहे हैं।
हाथरस से नांगल तक: जंगलराज है।
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) August 3, 2021
Protestors have also taken to the streets of the national capital, holding banners that say “give justice to the little girl” and demanding the death penalty for the four men accused of the crime.
The crime has drawn comparisons to the gangrape of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras in September last year. The woman’s body was also cremated in a hurry – allegedly by the police who acted without her parent’s consent and disposed off the body at 2 am in the morning.
#Hathras horror repeated in Delhi | A dalit girl allegedly raped inside crematorium and cremated by a priest without consent of family | Police as usual trying to do all type of hush up | Are we going to be silent spectators to such horrific crimes again #Nangalbrutality
— Bezwada Wilson (@BezwadaWilson) August 2, 2021
The residents of Old Nangal – the village in the Cantonment where the girl and her family lived – have been protesting since Sunday night, when the incident was reported.
“What was my daughter’s fault? How will I live without her?” the girl’s distraught mother asked yesterday as village residents staged a second day of protests.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who has called for improvements to the city’s law and order situation, is also expected to meet the young girl’s family, and has pledged to help seek justice.
“The murder of a nine-year-old innocent in Delhi, after subjecting her to brutality, is very shameful. There is a need to improve the law and order situation… the culprits should be given capital punishment at the earliest,” Mr Kejriwal tweeted.
Dalit leader and Bhim Army Chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad has already met the girl’s family, and has said his organisation will join protests in Nangal village and offer support.
“This is my own family. She was my sister,” he tweeted, refuting claims the young girl died of electrocution – as the accused had claimed. “From Prime Minister to Home Minister everyone lives here (Delhi) still there is no sense of safety for women,” Chandra Shekhar Aazad said.
The Delhi Commission for Women has launched an inquiry and summoned the police.
Delhi Police have arrested the four accused, including the priest, and filed charges under stringent laws that include sections on child sex abuse and crimes against scheduled castes and tribes.
Further investigation into the crime is ongoing, police have said.
With input from ANI, PTI