'No More Than 5 Allowed Inside Hathras Village,' UP Police Lathicharge SP and RLD Workers

Police have visibly increased deployment and had earlier stopped the full team of SP members from proceeding further from Agra.

New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh police on Sunday visibly bolstered forces to keep politicians and journalists from the house of the 19-year-old Dalit victim of brutality in Hathras’s Boolgarhi village. The effort appeared largely to coincide with the visit of a delegation of Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal members, who were lathicharged upon when they attempted to visit the victim’s family.

Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad also visited the family on Sunday.

UP Police had declared that “no more than five people are allowed inside the village,” according to news agency ANI. A report on Zee News, however, said that this restriction applied not to the village, but to those visiting the victim’s family, keeping social distancing norms in mind.

The SP members were initially stopped at Agra, but a section of them were eventually allowed to visit the family. The members who were forced to remain behind were allegedly lathicharged upon.

Among those beaten up was RLD leader Jayant Chaudhary who tweeted a video to show a particularly merciless round of lathicharge.

SP president Akhilesh Yadav had on Saturday set up an 11-member fact-finding team headed by the party’s state unit chief Naresh Uttam Patel to visit the village on Sunday and meet the family of the victim. The party said the delegation was stopped at a toll plaza near Agra by police at the behest of the government.

ANI quoted police as having justified the lathicharge.

“Delegations of Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) came in, we got give names listed and allowed them to go there,” the SDM of Hathras Sadar police station, Prem Prakash Meena, told ANI, alleging that the political party members who were left behind had misbehaved with women personnel.

Meena was quoted as having said that police used “minor force” to contain agitators who allegedly broke the barricade and pelted stones.

“In view of the current situation, no political representatives or media personnel would be allowed entry into the village till the SIT (Special Investigation Team) completes its probe,” Hathras Additional Superintendent of Police Prakash Kumar had told reporters.

Also read: UP Police Officers Must Be Investigated for Attempting to Shield Hathras Accused

Sadhika Tiwari, a journalist who was close to the barricades put up by police before the village, posted on Twitter that cops have been given instructions to stop a delegation of Samajwadi Party politicians “however possible.” In the photographs that Tiwari attached, the number of personnel deployed appeared to be above 50.

In subsequent tweets, Tiwari also noted the arrival of policemen in security gear and the fact that personnel had been sent to the victim’s house ahead of the SP leaders’ visit.

The Uttar Pradesh police’s attempts to isolate the Dalit victim’s family in a village predominantly populated by upper caste Thakurs has come under severe criticism.

Its personnel earlier stopped Congress workers and arrested leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi from reaching Hathras. A day later they also stopped a Trinamool Congress delegation. In both instances, photo and video evidence point to the use of liberal force by police. The Gandhis were able to visit the family on Saturday, October 3.