Left parties on Sunday accused the Uttar Pradesh authorities of "playing tricks" to keep the family of a Dalit woman, who allegedly died after being gang-raped in Hathras, away from its fact finding team, which had to call off its visit after being informed that the family was being shifted to Lucknow for a court appearance.
In a joint statement, the CPI, CPI (M) and LJD alleged that the UP authorities were not in favour of their visit.
The fact-finding team comprised of Elamaram Kareem (CPI(M)), Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya (CPI(M)), Binoy Viswam (CPI) and M V Shreyams Kumar (LJD).
In the statement, the parties said the team had spoken to the victim's family and the District authorities about their visit and fixed it for Sunday morning. The District Magistrate and District Police Superintendent had also agreed for a meeting with the team about the visit, it said.
"But on Saturday late evening, we got an information from police sources that the family had to be taken to Lucknow for a hearing in the high court on Monday. It is to be noted that Lucknow is only 6-7 hours away from Hathras and they can reach there comfortably by Sunday evening even if the family leave from there at noon time.
"We were looking forward to see the family on Sunday morning around 11 am. After repeated communication from our offices regarding the visit, it was quite clear from the attitude of the authorities that they were not in favour of our visit and wanted to avoid us meeting the family," the statement said.
The team, however, decided to still go ahead with their plans but on Sunday when they were to start for Hathras, the team was informed that the family will be taken to Lucknow in the morning itself.
"When we checked up with the family, they said that they have no idea about it and the police have instructed them to be ready to leave Hathras before 10 am. So, in the air of uncertainty of meeting family, we had to drop the plan to visit Hathras.
"We seriously doubt that the Police, who are just obeying the orders of the BJP government, did not want us to meet the family and understand the facts. They intentionally misguided us about the family's Lucknow journey citing court engagement," it said.
It further added that "authorities in Hathras are still playing tricks to keep the family away from public glare."
The statement said the authorities feared that the team's visit will be another occasion to highlight the incidents and the failure of this government in dealing with the case.
The statement said now, it has been made known to the team that the family is scheduled to leave for Lucknow on Monday at 5.30 am.
"So, it is undoubtedly clear that the authorities intentionally gave wrong information to us, the media as well as the victim's family regarding their Lucknow journey. We strongly doubt that all these exercises were carried out only to avoid the fact-finding team meeting the victim's family.
"The ugly face of BJP regime in UP is being unveiled through this. We hereby urge the people of this country to unite and come forward against this anti-democratic government in UP. We will continue our fight against these forces and stand in solidarity with the victim's family," it said.
The family members of the 19-year-old Dalit woman who died at a Delhi hospital after allegedly being raped by four men in Hathras will appear before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court on Monday.
"Shocked" by the murder and alleged gang-rape of the Dalit woman and the subsequent forcible cremation, the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court had on October 1 summoned top government officials.
Taking suo motu cognisance of the case, which has triggered widespread outrage, a division bench of Justice Rajan Roy and Justice Jaspreet Singh had ordered the Uttar Pradesh additional chief secretary, state police chief and an additional director general of police to appear before it on October 12 to explain the incident.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine