The order came after two chaotic days when police banned the entry of “outsiders” to the village, triggering allegations that it had put the Dalit woman’s family under surveillance Credit: Representational Image

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The Uttar Pradesh government, on Friday, suspended senior police officials in Hathras district and ordered narco-analysis tests for everyone involved in the case as pressure mounted over blocking media access to the family of a 19-year-old Dalit woman, whose brutal gang-rape and murder has shook the nation.

The government, in an order on Friday evening, suspended Hathras superintendent of police Vikrant Vir, deputy superintendent of police Ram Shabd, police inspector in-charge Dinesh Kumar Verma, senior sub- inspector Jagveer Singh, and head constable Mahesh Pal.

The district police came under criticism, first for an alleged delay in responding to the woman and her family’s complaint, cremating her body in the middle of the night without the family’s consent, then for throwing a cordon of police officers around the village that stopped the entry of all journalists, and now for seizing the phones of the victim’s family members — although it is likely that instructions for many of these came from Lucknow.

The suspensions were ordered on the basis of recommendations by a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT), which questioned the victim’s family members on Thursday. “The SIT formed in the Hathras case submitted its preliminary report to the state government today,” read the government press note.

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It said that Vir was suspended for alleged negligence and lax supervision of the case. He was replaced with Shamli SP Vineet Jaiswal. “Narco and polygraph tests should be conducted on the accused, complainant and police officials,” the note added.

Former Uttar Pradesh deputy general of police, Brij Lal said: “The state government orders narco-analysis tests in criminal cases to know if the complainants and the accused are giving a correct version of in the incident concerned.”

The SIT – comprising home secretary Bhagwan Swaroop, deputy inspector general of police Chandra Prakash and commandant of the Agra provincial armed constabulary Poonam – was constituted on September 30.

The order came after two chaotic days when police banned the entry of “outsiders” to the village, triggering allegations that it had put the Dalit woman’s family under surveillance.

On Friday morning, a teenager who claimed to be a cousin of the victim, approached journalists waiting at the police barricades – set up roughly 2km from the village – and alleged that the administration locked in the family, seized their mobile phones and even hit the victim’s father.

“They have seized our mobile phones and won’t allow us to meet the media. All we want is speak to journalists about the pressure we are under,” he said.

The police denied the charges, and pointed out that Section 144 of the Indian Penal Code – which prohibits the assembly of four or more people – was clamped in the area.

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