Protests continue on the fourth day on charges of mass rape, murder and forced cremation of a nine-year-old girl in Delhi, the capital of India.
The girl’s parents accused a Hindu priest and three others of attacking her when she went to get drinking water from the crematorium cooler.
Her mother said the gates were closed and threatened when she opposed the cremation of her daughter.
Police registered a mass rape and murder case and arrested a man.
Warning: Some readers may find this story painful.
The girl’s parents are Dalits (formerly untouchables) who make a living by begging outside a Sufi Islamic shrine directly opposite the crematorium in the Nangal area of Delhi. The girl was their only child.
Her mother told me on Sunday night that she had sent her daughter to draw water from the crematorium, just a few meters from Shanti.
“When she didn’t come back for more than an hour, I went looking for her. At the crematorium, I found her lying on the ground. Her lips were blue and blood under her nose. There was a bruise on his hand and arm. Her clothes were wet. “
She said the priest and three men advised her not to call the police, saying, “They will insist on an autopsy and steal her organs and sell them.”
She claimed that they closed the gates to prevent her from leaving, threatened her, and even offered to bribe her.
The child’s father said his daughter’s body was almost burned by the time he arrived at the crematorium with about 150 villagers.
The villagers called the police and said they watered the crematorium but could only get her feet back. In other words, post-mortem testing to confirm rape would not be possible.
Police officials said mass rape, murder, and forced cremation cases had been registered against the accused, based on information from their parents.
The incident is compared to a Dalit teenage mass rape and murder allegedly carried out last year by four senior caste men in the town of Hathras in northern Uttar Pradesh. The incident caused worldwide anger after police forcibly cremated her body despite protests by her family.
Located at the bottom of the relentless Hindu caste hierarchy, Dalits are one of India’s most oppressed citizens.
The majority of the 200 million Dalits are poor and, despite the laws that protect them, they continue to be exposed to daily discrimination from upper castes and authorities.
And Dalit women face three burdens: poverty, gender bias and caste discrimination.
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Nangal crematorium on Wednesday, demanding the accused to die.
They also accused them of harassing the victims’ families and called for the suspension of some local police officers.
Delhi’s Prime Minister Arvind Keziwar and senior opposition parliamentary leader Rahul Gandhi visited the children’s families and offered to help them gain justice.
Protesters from Congress burned a portrait of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of not blaming the crime.
Over the past few days, Dalit community leaders have participated in protests, and activists and citizens have used social media to express their anger.
Some have already called it a caste crime because the accused priest is reported to be a brahmin of the upper caste.
Rape and sexual violence have been in the limelight in India since a young woman on a bus in Delhi was gang-raped and killed in 2012.
The attack saw several days of protests and forced changes in national rape law, but there were no signs that crimes against women and girls would ease.
According to recent crime statistics, one in four rape victims is a child in India. In the overwhelming number of rape cases, the victim knows the perpetrator.