New Delhi: More than 10,000 citizens and women’s rights groups from around the world have signed a petition condemning the brutality that led to the death of the 19-year-old Dalit girl in Hathras and have demanded punishment for the guilty.
“Shame on the state that stands with the guilty. Shame on the state that increases the impunity with which upper caste forces commit violence and hate crimes,” reads the statement.
The release calls for immediate action against state officials responsible for mishandling the case, destroying key evidence, and further traumatising the family and community.
The signatories include teachers, activists, journalists, homemakers, corporate sector executives, designers, cultural groups, artistes, writers, poets, school teachers, students, retired private and public officials, film societies, medical and other students and faculty, IT professionals, and numerous others.
Prominent among them are progressive voices like Syeda Hamid, Aruna Roy, Maimoona Mollah and Annie Raja, retired public officials such as Jawahar Sircar, Jerusha Rai, Kavita Singh, and legal luminaries like Indira Jaising, Flavia Agnes, Poonam Kaushik, and Shalini Gera.
Senior journalists such as Ankita Anand and Pamela Phillipose, artistes such as Aparna Sen, and academics like Mary John, Nivedita Menon and Janaki Nair are also signatories.
Hundreds of rights groups including Saheli, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Dalit Sthree Sakthi, NFIW, AIDWA, AIPWA, and others, have also signed the statement.
Coming down on the blatant casteism surrounding the case, the statement notes the particularly wretched condition of Dalits and women in Uttar Pradesh, under Adityanath’s rule.
“While there is a historicity to these incidents, but under CM Yogi’s rule, Uttar Pradesh has only gone from bad to worse. Crimes against women and Dalits have increased, and police have been given unlimited powers without any accountability. Today UP tops the charts for atrocities against Dalits, it also tops the charts for crimes against women.”
The signatories have sought to warn that calls for capital punishment severely dent the movement for justice.
“The state must not, we repeat not, push a rhetoric of death penalty for rape – for we have seen time and again that that is not the answer to stopping crimes, sexual or otherwise, anywhere in the world. After all, in our own country, it is barely six months since the hanging of those held guilty of the December 2012 gang rape and murder in Delhi. Has it stopped the guilty of Hathras, or Balramur, or Bulandshahr or Azamgarh…or anywhere else?”
The petition also notes that the brutality of this crime does not appear to have adequately shaken the conscience of the nation, as there are apologists everywhere.
“The growing support base for Thakurs, the fact that no official visited the girl’s family even once after her death, tells us the facts as they are, nobody cares and caste solidarity remains one of the ugliest and strongest kinship performances of the modern Indian state and one that must be challenged and broken.”
The actions of the state will only further strengthen those who continue to commit such crimes without any fear of punishment, it notes.