A video of a BJP leader from Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki alleging that the 19-year-old Dalit woman who was allegedly gang-raped must have called her boyfriend to the field in Hathras and may have been caught has gone viral on social media.
Ranjeet Srivastava, 67, a former chairman of Nawabganj Nagar Palika (municipality), denied that there was a rape and questioned why “such women” are found in millet fields only. The Dalit woman was allegedly raped when she had gone to collect fodder with her mother in a field.
“I think usually in such situations when girls are found in millet fields, they usually have an affair. This girl must have called her boyfriend to the fields,” Srivastava is both heard and seen saying it on the video, which has since gone viral on social media.
A father of three sons, with one of them being a member of UP BJP’s youth wing, Srivastava on being asked about the reference to ‘aisi ladkiyan bajre ke khet main hi kyun paayi jaati hai (why are such girls found in millet fields only)’, Srivastava said, “I haven’t spoken of all the girls as many are believing. I merely said, ‘iss tarah ki ladkiyan’ (such girls)’,” he said.
Asked what he meant by “iss tarah ki ladkiyan”, he said, “jis tarah ki wo ladki thee (the kind of girl that she was),” before giving an elaborate, laboured explanation of his ‘understanding’ of the situation that he maintained was largely driven by ‘social media’.
“See the point I am making is that one has to rely on circumstantial evidence, where there is no evidence. So I am asking, on the basis of what has been reported, both in local papers as well as in social media, as to what was this girl (referring to the victim), doing in millet fields? Because initial reports suggested that she had gone with her mother to cut grass but then millet fields have no grass. Even if we asssume there was grass in the millet field in which she had gone, then please remember that millet fields aren’t very dense. If she had sensed danger, she should have raised an alarm, instead of surrendering. And if whatever act she was allegedly subjected to against her will, then there must have been some sign of struggle, which clearly there is not.”
The BJP leader also refused to agree to the dying declaration made by the victim. “I don’t think her statement on rape before her death can be taken as dying declaration simply because a dying declaration has to be made before the magistrate, which I don’t think had been done, so how can it be termed dying declaration,” he said.
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