'Fight for justice will go on': Hathras victim's family after court convicts key accused, acquits 3

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The place where body of the gang rape victim in Hathras was cremated | Photo: AFP

Hathras (UP): A day after a special court here convicted the main accused in the 2020 Hathras rape-murder case while acquitting the three other accused, family members of the victim on Friday said their fight for justice will continue.

Sandeep (20), the main accused, was held guilty under section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder) of the Indian Penal Code, a lesser charge than section 302 (murder) and sentenced to life imprisonment while Ravi (35), Luv Kush (23) and Ramu (26) were acquitted.

The rape and murder charges could not be proved against the prime accused, his lawyer Munna Singh Pundir said.

"Our struggle to get justice for my sister has not yielded any results. We are yet to get justice, will continue our fight for it," a brother of the victim told mediapersons here on Friday.

He was present in the court room when the verdict was announced on Thursday.

The order convicting Sandeep under IPC section 304 read, "It completely proves without any doubt that on 14.09.2020, accused Sandeep strangulated the victim."

The injuries on the victim's body are most likely to have been caused by only one person, it said.

On why Sandeep was not convicted of murder, the court order said," The victim had been talking for eight days after the incident so it cannot be said that the intention of the accused was to definitely kill the victim."

"No injury or marks related to rape were found on the genitals of the victim and none of the doctors or nurses said in their statement that they found any evidence related to rape," the order said.

Hence, charge of rape could not be proved against Sandeep who was asked to pay Rs 50,000 as fine, of which Rs 40,000 would be given to the victim's family.

"Our fight was not to get money or any compensation. It was to get justice for my sister who was treated in the most abhorrent manner by the accused and was killed," said the brother.

The charge sheet in the case was filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the SC/ST court here against all the four accused for murder and gang rape, and under sections of the SC/ST Act.

Lawyer Seema Kushwaha, who is representing the Dalit woman's family, said on Thursday that they will challenge the verdict in the high court.

Sandeep's lawyer claimed that his client is innocent.

"We will appeal in the high court against the conviction. The prosecution couldn't prove the charges of rape, gang rape and murder in the court with sufficient evidence or witnesses," the lawyer had said.

The 19-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped by four men from her village on September 14, 2020. A fortnight later, she died at a Delhi hospital.

She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village near Hathras. Her family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.

Several politicians, including Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, slammed the Adityanath government over the death and the hurried cremation.

There were standoffs with UP Police when the two leaders, along with other party members, headed for the victims' village. The visit took place only on the second attempt.

In another episode linked to the Hathras incident, Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan and his companions were arrested when he was on his way to the district, the move triggering another row.

The UP Police claimed that he was linked to radical organisation People's Front of India and was trying to incite violence. After two years in jail, he was recently released on bail. PTI

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