Hathras (UP): The body of the 19-year-old Dalit woman, who died in a Delhi hospital a fortnight after she was gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras, was cremated here in the early hours of Wednesday, with her family alleging the local police forced them to conduct the last rites in the dead of the night.
Local police officers, however, told PTI that the cremation was carried out "as per the wishes of the family".
The woman was raped in a village in Hathras by four men on September 14. After her condition deteriorated, she was referred to Delhi's Safdarjung hospital where she breathed her last on Tuesday.
As news of her death spread, protests broke out in Delhi as well as in Hathras with all sections of society, including politicians, sports and cine stars and activists, expressing their anguish and demanding justice for her.
The family left Safdarjung hospital in Delhi on Tuesday night amid heavy police deployment. The body was taken by the Uttar Pradesh police, which reached Hathras earlier than the family members, claimed a kin of the victim.
"The cremation was done around 2.30 am - 3 am," the father of the deceased woman told PTI on Wednesday morning.
In the moments preceding the cremation, a brother of the woman told PTI: "Police have forcibly taken the body, and my father along with them for cremation. When my father reached Hathras, he was immediately taken (to the crematorium) by the police."
Another kin said the woman's father was accompanied by 30 to 40 people, mainly relatives and others from their neighbourhood, to the crematorium near Bool Garhi village, under Chandpa police station limits, in the district of western Uttar Pradesh.
Senior police and administration officials were also present at the crematorium in the middle of the night, an official said. According to purported visuals from the site that surfaced on social media some of the policemen were in anti-riot gears donning body vests and helmets.
"We are unable to understand, what they want... what kind of politics is this, they are giving random statements like the woman has not been raped! We don't know what they want," said the relative who was at home with the grieving family. "They are doing all this to hush up the case."
When contacted, Hathras Superintendent of Police Vikrant Vir told PTI in a text message: "All procedures as per wish of family (sic)."
SIT to probe case
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday constituted a three-member SIT to probe the Hathras gang-rape incident which has sparked outrage.
A senior government official said the chief minister has also asked for conducting the trial of the case in a fast track court.
The official said Secretary home, Bhagwan Swarup, will lead the SIT and DIG, Chandraprakash, and commandant PAC Agra, Poonam, will be its members.
The SIT has been asked to submit its report in seven days time, the official said.