The Scribe Web Desk
Dallas (TX) — Leading Indian American civil rights groups, which are dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist, democratic and secular values, on Sunday protested against the massive governmental coverup of the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit woman in the Hathras district of India’s Uttar Pradesh state last month.
Holding placards that said “Dalit Lives Matter” and “Stop Rape”, and chanting slogans, dozens of protesters assembled near the Dallas Municipal Court to assail the police for denying that the woman had been raped and for failing to investigate the crime in time.
“That the police refused to hand over the victim’s body to her family and cremated it on their own without her family’s consent was a most brazen attempt at coverup,” said Sharib Haroon of Indian American Muslim Council. “It is shameful that the government has tried to suggest the victim’s family had killed her in an act of ‘honor killing’.”
Dilip Gupta, an Indian American, said, “It would be naive and preposterous to assume that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose government has gone to such length to deny the crime and protect the perpetrators, would ensure justice.”
The protest was organized by Hindus for Human Rights, Ambedkarite Buddhist Association of Texas (ABAT), DFW Guru Ravidas Organization, Global Indian Progressive Alliance and IAMC, among other organizations.
“Rapes happen in India because of caste supremacy,” Jagdish Banker of ABAT said. “As much as swift justice is needed, wider awareness of caste-based atrocities, not just in India but also in the US, would also help to get rid of this horrific crime.”
The victim, who belonged to the former “untouchables” Dalit caste, the lowest rung of the Hindu society, was brought to the hospital in a critical condition. She told a magistrate that she was raped by four upper caste men on September 14. She died two weeks after the rape. Initially, the police refused to register a case and investigate it. But after a national outcry, the four men accused of the rape were arrested.
The protesters in Dallas also condemned the police for registering criminal cases against journalists and civil rights activists who reached Hathras to report the story and to express solidarity with the victims’ family.
The protesters also said law and order had broken down under Adityanath’s rule. “On the same night the Hathras police cremated this victim, three more rapes were reported across the state. Just six days later, another rape occurred in Hathras, despite the heavy presence of media and police,” one protester said.
Gurvinder Singh, an Indian American Sikh, said “Torture, oppression and terror have no religion, so you have to choose sides, either on the right side of history or the wrong side. If we do not stand for others then none will come for us.”
Abdul Quadir, another Indian American, who drove four hours to join the protest, said, “As the father of a young girl, I could not sleep since I heard about this rape. That the police did not even let her mother prepare her daughter’s dead body for her last journey, as is customary among Hindus, is sheer cruelty.”