The Congress has been desperately clinging to the Hathras incident to gain some much-needed political capital in Uttar Pradesh, by exploiting the caste angles in the case. As the unfortunate incident of a Dalit girl’s strangulation, allegedly by an ‘upper caste’ boy becomes the political battleground, Congress leaders seem to be taking Hathras as their picnic spot.
Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were seen laughing, enjoying their long drive on the way to Hathras.
On Monday, Congress Dalit leader Udit Raj and his supporters travelled to Hathras from Delhi to meet the victim’s family. However, he was temporarily stopped by the Ghaziabad police near UP gate for not having requisite permission. Udit Raj had however claimed that he had sought permission of District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police in Hathras and Additional Director General of Police (Agra).
Udit Raj laughs, cracks jokes at a sit-in-protest
Nevertheless, the Congress Dalit leader staged a sit-in protest on the road against the supposed high-handedness of the police. In a viral video that has now come to light, Udit Raj was seen in a jovial mode. While his supporters raised the slogan of ‘Bharat mata ki jai‘, the Dalit leader from the Congress party was seen giggling and cracking jokes with a female supporter. The merry-making was clearly visible as Udit Raj was seen first pulling the female supporter closer, whispering something in her ears after which they both double up laughing while the ‘protest demanding justice for the victim’ continues on the background.
Udit Raj also wrapped his arms around the shoulder of his supporter for a brief moment while ignoring the seriousness around the Hathras case. He faced criticism on social media for his callous and insensitive behaviour, prompting social media users to question whether he was on a ‘picnic.’
Udit Raj poses for the camera, flouts social distancing guidelines
The District Magistrate had imposed Section 144 of the CrPC in the area, which prevents congregation of more than 5 people. The Ghaziabad police informed that Udit Raj wanted to take out a rally in Hathras but was not allowed to do so. Following his conversation with the District Magistrate of Hathras, he was allowed to visit the victim’s family with a convoy of 6 vehicles.
When Udit Raj reached the house of the victim, the Congress Dalit leader hugged a victim’s family member. During the photo-op, he claimed that he stood by the family of the deceased girl. Once the photo session was over, he was quick to distance himself from the man. Udit Raj was also spotted not wearing his mask and flouting social distancing guidelines, amidst the Coronavirus pandemic. He had shared the video clip of the meeting on Twitter and claimed that he had shared ‘condolences’ with the family and vowed to fight against the ‘injustice’.
Rahul, Priyanka Gandhi’s ‘happy drive’
Earlier, senior Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi came under intense criticism for their callousness. People pointed out how they were laughing and having fun while visiting the family of the bereaved. The laughter of the siblings appeared consistent with the recent declaration of a journalist that the Hathras case was a ‘god given opportunity‘ for them to resurrect their careers.
The Hathras incident
A lot of debate and political mudslinging has been happening around the Hathras case since the victim succumbed to her injuries in Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital last week. While the victim and her family had claimed that she was gang-raped by the four accused, post mortem and forensic lab results have ruled out rape. Later, the initial statements and police reports filed by the family with the local police emerged, where no rape or sexual assault was mentioned, casting a doubt of possible foulplay in the entire incident.
The initial statements by the victim and her family members are contradictory to the later claims of brutality and gang-rape. Also, the names of the three other accused were ‘added on’ in later statements. Owing to the caste of the victim and the accused, the case has become a fertile ground for some political parties to create social divisions and exploit the caste angle politically.
All four accused named by the victim had been arrested by the police.