Father of the victim mourning the death of his daughter. Pic by Dipali Raghave.
Bhatan Kheda, Unnao: Several users tweeted on the social media website Twitter using #UnnaoKiBeti as the victim of the Unnao gang-rape and burning case was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.
The inconsolable father and brother of the 23-year-old victim demanded capital punishment for all the accused who had allegedly burnt her alive while she was on her way to catch a train to Raebareli on Thursday, in the wee hours. The administration has reportedly agreed to the demand of government job to one of the family members, an arm license to the brother, two houses and a solatium of Rs 25 lakh.
The last rites ceremony witnessed presence of many policemen, a few family members, a small number of villagers, a couple of ministers and a large crowd from theneighbouring areas.
As per the panchayat record, accessed by this reporter, the village has 40% population of the upper castes.
According to reports, on the ill-fated morning, the victim walked for more than a kilometre with her badly burnt body on a road full of coarse aggregate. She was seeking help to make a phone call to cops in order to report what she had gone through.
The eyewitness who helped her in making the call said that the victim was determined to get justice and was taking names of all the accused on the phone. After hanging up, she started walking towards the railway station on the way to which, she was rescued by the Unnao police’s response vehicle.
The eyewitness said that the victim’s body was fully burnt and she had burn marks on her face as well. “I was scared when I saw her. She was totally burnt and there was not a single piece of cloth on her body. I thought initially that she was a witch. But then, she told me her father’s name. I then helped her in making the phone call. I went inside my house to fetch water and clothes for her and when I came out, she was gone. I saw her at a distance walking towards the railway station. She was walking with her hands lifted as she was in a lot of pain,” Prasad, an eyewitness, told NewsClick.
According to the victim’s father, his daughter was in a relationship with the main accused, Shivam Trivedi, since they were studying in standard XI. The victim was a graduate and the main accused was in the final year of his graduation.
“Shivam convinced my daughter; made her fall into his trap and then she started loving him. Initially, we did not suspect anything. We got to know about all this only last year. My daughter wanted to marry Shivam, but he refused, saying that he belongs to an upper caste. They are Brahmins and we are Vishwakarma. My daughter was very much upset and she wanted to get out of this relationship. My daughter left the village and started living with her aunt in the Lalganj area of Raebareli district,” the father said, adding, “Shivam then got to know about her whereabouts and then kidnapped her, kept her at isolated places in Raebareli and Kanpur district. Shivam kept harassing my daughter physically and mentally. Shivam had made a video, shooting her in a compromising position and was blackmailing her.”
The victim’s father further said that Shivam was able to convince his daughter—by getting an affidavit made on Rs 50 stamped paper from the Raebareli district court—that both Shivam and the girl were married to each other.
“I didn’t know that my daughter was missing and was being kept by Shivam at places. So, we did not file any missing complaint with the police and just thought that my daughter is living with her aunt,” he said, while speaking to NewsClick.
According to the first FIR in this case, which was registered in March 2019, Shivam and his distant cousin Shubham had gang-raped the victim in the fields after bringing her from Raebareli.
“Shivam first went to the temple and there he vowed by keeping his hand on the idol of Lord Shiva that he wants to be with the slain victim. But then he and his cousin Shubham Trivedi, who is also the son of the village head, raped her in the fields on December 12, 2018,” reads the FIR accessed by NewsClick.
The victim ran from pillar to post after this episode to get her complaint registered, but was reportedly shooed away by the officials at the Bihar police station in Unnao. It took her more than three months to get the police case registered against the accused, for which she also had to approach the court.
The accused were not arrested for long by the police even after the FIR was registered against them; they continued to roam freely. Shivam surrendered on September 19 and was granted a bail on November 25.
As per the documents accessed by NewsClick, Shivam was denied anticipatory bail by the sessions court in Raebareli on August 14. The court observed that the ground on which Shivam pleaded for the bail were “inadequate and unsatisfactory” given the seriousness of the case.
However, he was granted bail by Justice Rajeev Singh of Allahabad High Court on the condition that he will not tamper with the evidence or influence the witness, will cooperate in speedy disposal of the case and will be available on all the dates of the hearing. Shivam stepped out of the jail on November 30 and allegedly killed the girl on December 5.
Shivam’s mother, Seema Trivedi, who was seen crying inconsolably, told this reporter: “How could have my son has married a girl from the lower caste? She (the victim) had conspired against us because of our property and Shivam being our only offspring. She vowed to finish us all and she deliberately set herself on fire.”
The family members of the accused are also using purported screenshots of parts of Facebook conversation between the victim and her advocate Mahesh Singh Rathore to support their claim.
Unnao Superintendent of Police (SP) Vikrant Vir said that an SIT has been formed to investigate this case and every angle will be looked at thoroughly.
Meanwhile, the SP also informed NewsClick that 51 cases of rape have been reported in his district between January 1 and November 30, this year.
The family members of all the accused, who also happen to be relatives, are scared that the accused can be killed by the police in an encounter like it happened in Telangana, a couple of days ago.
Seema, a cousin of Shubham Trivedi said, “Please ask the government to conduct a fair enquiry in the case and follow the law. The father of the dead girl is demanding a Hyderabad-style encounter and we are ready for it if they are found guilty—but only after a fair probe.”
Following this episode, the village seems to be divided along the caste lines. Not a single person from the upper caste families attended the funeral of the victim.
Meanwhile, Unnao SP Vikrant Vir on late Sunday evening suspended seven policemen from the Bihar police station, including the station house officer Ajay Kumar Tripathi.