Unnao case: “UP Police accused us of inciting riots,” allege Dalit activists, police deny allegations

Surpakash Majumdar, TwoCircles.net

New Delhi: On February 18, three Dalit girls were found unconscious, tied with a single cloth in a field in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. The locals and the family members rushed the girls to the hospital where doctors announced two of the girls dead.

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Postmortem results indicated that the two girls died of poisoning. A couple of days after the incident, the police issued a statement. According to the police, two men confessed to the crime. The prime accused, named Vinay, had been pursuing, even post rejection, one of the girls. They had been stalking the girl for a long time. He and the second accused, who is a minor, mixed farm pesticide in a bottle of water and gave the bottle to the girls. When the girls fainted after drinking the poisoned water, Vinay and the other accused tied them with a cloth and left them in a field.

Leaders from various Dalit political organizations and NGO’s visited Unnao to inspect the situation considering the flak the Uttar Pradesh government has been receiving in recent times over its treatment of Dalits, especially after the Hathras rape case in September, 2020.

Alka from Dalit Adhikar Mahila Andolan Morcha (AIDMAM) was one of the first activists who reached the hospital. Talking to TwoCircles.net, Alka alleges that the police and the administration are not cooperating with the family and are misbehaving with the activists.

“We went to the hospital to see the girl who is still in a very critical condition. First, they did not allow us to meet the girl or even the family,” Alka said.

Alka said that when she tried to question the police why they weren’t allowed to meet the girl, the police officers allegedly asked them to give them 1-2 lakh rupees and go away.

“They asked us to just give the family some money and go back and accused us of manipulating the family and inciting riots,” Alka said.

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Unnao police, however, denied all the allegations. “These claims are all false. Why would the police misbehave with the activists?,” the PRO said.

Unnao police have also filed FIRs against eight Twitter handles for spreading fake news and misinformation including MojoStory, a media organization led by renowned journalist Barkha Dutt. The seven other Twitter handles that are named in the FIR are Janjagran Live, Aazad Samaj Party spokesperson Suraj Kumar Boudh, Nilim Dutta, Vijay Ambedkar, Abhay Kumar Azad, Rahul Diwakar, Nawab Satpal Tanwar.

Most of these handles regularly speak on issues related to minorities in India.

“This is a blatant case of harassment and intimidation,” MojoStory tweeted after the FIRs were filed.

“These handles were spreading fake news and misinformation regarding the case. When there is no proof of sexual violence, these handles are constantly saying that there was sexual violence in the crime,” said Unnao Police PRO.

These Twitter handles are calling the filing of charges by UP Police as ‘harassment for asking questions to the authorities’. “We will not be silenced,” Barkha Dutt tweeted.