Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention asking for strong action against the perpetrators and the statement by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief minister, Yogi Adityanath, that a Special Investigation Team will look into the Hathras case and submit its report in a week offer hope that this crime will not fall by the wayside. The victim was reportedly attacked and gangraped while working in a field; she died in Delhi on Tuesday. That she was a Dalit and her attackers upper caste has opened up old wounds in a state where such distinctions matter.
The attack happened on September 14, but the hospital where she was first treated did not even confirm the rape. Already spin factories are busy preferring alternative facts about how she was beaten up, not raped. Meanwhile, the UP police has added insult to injury by hastily cremating the body, in the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday even though the family wanted to take her home and then cremate her on Wednesday. A state machinery that was inefficient in preventing the crime or even acting promptly on the complaint, suddenly turned efficient in managing the aftermath. The real issues, that of filing an FIR in time, of proper forensic investigation, and of meticulous evidence-gathering have not been addressed. The case should prompt a review of security for women and accountability both on the part of the state and the police.