The murder and alleged gang-rape case of a girl in Hathras in Uttar Pradesh continues to be a big political issue taken up by the opposition parties to attack the BJP govt at the state. While it is a case of a brutal attack on a Dalit girl, the allegation of rape remains contentious and inconclusive. The Uttar Pradesh police maintain that the girl was not rapped, relying on a forensic report. Countering the police claim, today left-wing portal The Wire published an exclusive report claiming that a medico-legal examination report on the case prepared by the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital shatters the police version.
The Wire has accessed the 54-page report, and based on it they have concluded that the victim was raped. But the portal has misrepresented facts presented in the report they have accessed, and has ignored several other parts of the report that does not mention any sexual assault.
The Wire writes, “In section 16 of the MLC performed by the JNMCH, the doctors record that the victim’s vagina had been penetrated by a penis during the incident. In the next column, the doctors said that the penetration was “complete”. But this is completely misleading, because the content mentioned in section 16 does not describe any medical examination conducted by the doctors, but it only mentions statements given by the victim about the incident. The section comes under the heading ‘Details provided by the survivor’, and section 16 is titled “Details of the Act”, therefore it only records what the victim narrated about the incident, and it is not said by doctors as reported by The Wire.
On the question of ‘Orifice penetrated’, the answer is vagina, and the next answers say it was complete and done by penis. But the subsequent questions have no answer, as the victim was not aware of those as she had fallen unconscious.
This is mentioned in the report itself, which the Wire has included in the report. If these were observations by doctors, answers to those questions should be present. This makes it clear that section 16 only contains the statement of the victim about the incident, and it is not opinions of the doctors who had attended to her. Wire presented a completely misleading picture by attributing the victim’s statements to doctors.
It is noteworthy that first few days after the incident, videos had emerged where the mother of the vicitm was describing the attack, and at that time the mother also didn’t mention any rape allegation.
Although the victim’s statement confirming rape is very signification in terms of the case, the report as a whole does not confirm as Wire presented it. Several other points of the reports are also worth mentioning, which shows that the report is not conclusive about the allegation of rape, and it is better to wait till probe is before coming to a conclusion. Here are some important points in the report that Wire didn’t mention in their article, respite having the complete report.
Towards the beginning of the report prepared by the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital under Aligarh Muslim University, where the girl was admitted, it is mentioned the patient was admitted on 14th September, and the history of patient illness states, “as alleged by the informant, an unknown person strangulated the neck of the patient from behind with dupatta while she was doing some work in the fields.” The informant was the father of the girl, Om Prakash. This shows, the very first official record of the incident didn’t mention rape, and it said that the girl was attacked by one person. The report also records that the girl was conscious when she was brought to the hospital.
The detailed observation of the physical condition of the victim as recorded in the report mentions the injury mark on neck, which matches with the father’s statement that she was strangulated. The report does not mention any sexual assault in this section.
On 22nd September, the hospital asked for a magistrate to record the dying declaration of the victim, as her condition has become critical. It was at this stage that the allegation of rape was first made, including the allegation of involvement of more than one attacker. The report recorded on 22 September contains a statement by her father, where it says, “as alleged by the informant, the survivor was sexually assaulted by four known persons of the same village when she was doing some work in the fields of village Bulgarhi on 14/09/2020 at 9:00am”.
Therefore, the father’s statement changed from “strangulation by an unknown person” to “sexual assault by four known persons” in one week, a significant change.
After the new charges were levelled, a forensic examination for sexual assault was conducted, details of which are mentioned in the report.
Under the ‘Details provided by the survivor’ section in the forensic examination, the report mentions the names of the assailants as Sandeep, Ramu, Luvkush and Ravi from the same village, and it mentions vaginal penetration by penis as reported in the Wire report. But it does not mention whether all four were involved in the rape.
One important factor in determining rape cases is examination of the body of victim under ultraviolet light. But the report says the UV examination was not done as the body was wiped several times. This is because rape charge was levelled one week after admission at the hospital, and thus important evidence was lost, if the allegation is true.
The report mentions four healed abrasion on back and buttocks, but no injury is reported in the genitalia. The forensic examination found no injuries at Labia majora, labia minora, urethra, hymen, vagina, fourchette and perineum, which is recorded in the report that the Wire is quoting.
The speculum examination contained in the report says “no abnormality detected, cervix and vagina healthy”.
The opinion of the doctor performing the examination mentioned in the report says, “On the basis of examination I am of the opinion that there are signs of force however opinion regarding penetrative intercourse is reserved pending availability of FLS reports”. This clearly said that the report has reserved the opinion regarding the rape charge, it has not confirmed it as Wire is wrongly claiming. The ‘signs of force’ mentioned in the opinion refers to the physical attack on the girl, as there is no mention of any sexual attack in the report, and it didn’t find any injury to the genital parts.
It is notable that the vaginal and perineal swab was collected for test in forensic science laboratory, apart from swabs from several other organs as per standard practice. According to recent reports, the FSL report has also come and it has denied the rape allegations. Times of India journalist Arvind Chauhan has posted a final opinion report from the Department of Forensic Medicine of the Aligarh Muslim University, which says that there is no sign of vaginal/anal intercourse. It also says there are evidences of physical assault and there are injury marks on neck and back, which matches with the medical report prepared by Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Hospital.
Therefore, the only evidence of rape in the case remains the statement of the victim. It is important to note that a dying declaration of the victim is important evidence, and the courts can even convict the accused based on this alone, in the absence of any other evidence. But the fact remains that the allegation has not been supported by any medical or forensic report as The Wire is claiming. The report prepared by JNMCH does not confirm rape, it only contains the statement by the victim and the second statement by father mentioning rape. There is no remark by any doctor or any medical examination report confirming rape as alleged by The Wire.