21:12 GMT20 October 2020
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    Dalits, or people from the lower strata of Indian society, constitute nearly 21 percent of Uttar Pradesh’s population. The rising instances of crimes against marginalised sections of society, particularly in Uttar Pradesh, have been documented in updated government statistics released on Tuesday.

    At least two party colleagues of Uttar Pradesh Chief Yogi Adityanath, who belongs to the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have demanded strict action against the cops involved in cremating the corpse of a 19-year-old gang rape victim against the wishes of her family on Wednesday. 

    Ruling BJP parliamentarian from East Delhi Hans Raj Hans sent a note to Uttar Pradesh state chief Adityanath, in which he urged "strong action" against the officials who cremated the dead body of the 19-year-old Dalit victim at 2 in the morning. A copy of the communication was tweeted out by the BJP leader from his Twitter account.

    Kailash Vijayvargiya, a BJP old-timer from the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, also told the Yogi government that justice would be served to the bereaved family members.

    He referenced a previous incident involving a criminal being shot dead in an alleged extrajudicial killing by the Uttar Pradesh police in July. Some social media users speculated that the remarks by Vijayvargiya were directed towards the alleged high-handedness of the state’s police force under Yogi Adityanath.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi reportedly asked for strict action against errant state officials, following which the Uttar Pradesh government created a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the circumstances in the lead-up to the gang rape victim’s cremation, news agency ANI reported on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, the autopsy report of the teenage victim by Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital showed that she hadn't been sexually assaulted, in what is a new twist in the whole saga.

    Another gang-rape reported

    Another 22-year-old girl from the Dalit community was allegedly sexually assaulted by two men in the Balrampur district, nearly 500 kilometres from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh.

    Local media reported that the victim, a 22-year-old student, was accosted by two men on her way back from college on Tuesday. She is said to have been raped, following which her legs and spine were broken by the accused before she was allegedly drugged with an injection.

    NDTV quoted the victim’s mother receiving their daughter in a semi-conscious state in an auto rickshaw, before her family rushed her to hospital. The victim succumbed to her injuries on the way. The news channel reported that both of the accused had been arrested.

    Opposition parties gunned for the state government over the alleged sexual assault incidents. Priyanka Gandhi, the general secretary of India’s main opposition Congress Party, lambasted the incident as a failure of the law and order machinery in the state.

    Her brother and former Congress President Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter to mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Beti Bachao" (Save the Girl Child) slogan, as he expressed concern over rising instances of crimes against women and underprivileged economic populations in the state.

    Crimes against women on the rise

    A new report released by India’s National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Tuesday painted a grim picture as far as crimes against women and marginalised sections of society are concerned.

    The official report noted that crimes against women in India had risen by more than seven percent in 2019, as compared to the year before. Crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, or marginalised sections, on the other hand, had also risen by more than seven percent.

    The state of Uttar Pradesh reported the highest annual numbers in both categories, said the report.

    The report also claimed that crimes against women had increased by nearly 13 percent since 2014, when Prime Minister Modi's BJP stormed to power.

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