New Delhi: After one BJP leader held a rally in support of the accused in the Hathras case and another leader said rapes will stop if parents teach their daughters ‘proper values’, a third leader of the saffron party has maligned the victim’s character, describing her as ‘awaara‘ (wayward).
Ranjeet Bahadur Srivastava, a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki, claimed that the 19-year-old woman was having an affair with the accused and called him to the millet field where she was found on September 14.
In a video that he released on his Facebook page, he says in Hindi that the accused and the victim were having an affair. “This news is already out on social media and news channels. She must have gotten caught,” he said, according to a translation by India Today.
“Such girls are found dead in only some places. They will be found dead in sugarcane, corn and millet fields or in bushes, gutters or forests. Why are they never found dead in paddy or wheat fields?” he asks, implying that the victim was killed by her family because they discovered the ‘affair’.
Despite the UP police’s claim that the FSL report shows the woman was not raped, the family and the victim have insisted that the 19-year-old was attacked and assaulted by four Thakur men. The woman, in her dying declaration, named four men – Sandip Singh, Ramu Singh, Ravi Singh and Lavkush Singh – and alleged that they raped and physically assaulted her.
Srivastava also defended the four accused, saying they should be released until a chargesheet is filed in the case. “I can say with guarantee these boys are innocent. If they are not released in time, they will keep facing mental harassment. Who will return their lost youth? Will the government give them compensation?” the Barabanki leader said, according to India Today.
He falsely claimed that the victim’s family raised allegations of rape only after leaders of the Congress visited her repeatedly.
Taking note of the BJP leader’s comments, National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma said on Twitter, “He is not fit to be called the leader of any party. He is showing his primitive and sick mindset and I am going to send a notice to him.”
Srivastava has a history of making communal statements and there are 44 criminal cases registered against him. Before the 2019 general elections, he asked people to vote for the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ‘destroy the breed of Muslims‘. In July 2019, he claimed that cows should be ‘rescued’ from Muslims who are rearing them.
“When we consider girls from our homes going to their homes as ‘love jihad’, shouldn’t we consider ‘gau mata‘ going to their homes ‘love jihad’ too? This is love jihad. Cows should be taken back from them at any cost,” he said.