The brutal gang rape and death of 19-year-old Manisha Valmiki, belonging to a lower caste from Hathras in the the state of Uttar Pradesh in India, and the police action thereafter has sent shock waves all over the world. This brutality committed by perpetrators from an upper caste, as caste motivated hate crimes, must be condemned in the strongest way.
Dalit and human rights organisations in the UK have issued an open joint statement condemning this heinous crime and demanding strict action against the culprits and also against those officials who tried to cover up this incident. Atrocities against women have become a matter of concern and shame for all who love humanity and India.
Santosh Dass MBE, President, FABO UK said that the case of Miss Manisha Valmiki is yet another sickening gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman that has caused global outrage. “Everything about the clear failure and cover-up in handling of this case is abhorrent, including reports that Manisha’s body was set alight by petrol in a so-called cremation in the middle of the night. Members of Manisha’s family were not allowed to conduct the funeral, be present, or to carry out the last rites. This is cruelty beyond measure. My heart as a woman and mother bleeds knowing this.”
“The Chief Minister of UP, Mr Yogi Adityanath, whose worldview on women is that they are not capable of being left free or independent, must resign. We also demand that he and the police officers and officials concerned must be charged under the SC/ST Atrocities Act and the rapists be arrested,” she said.
Arun Kumar, the General Secretary, FABO UK said that the gang rape of this young Dalit woman is not the first one and won’t be the last one. “We read stories every day where Dalit women are beaten, paraded naked, raped, and killed. The numbers are increasing every day. After this brutal incident, such crimes have occurred in Balrampur, Azamgarh, and Bulandshehar. These are all caste motivated hate crimes. These brutalities become news items and are forgotten. It is time to act and stop these heinous crimes. The culprits must be punished in a set period of time. The officials who try to cover up such crimes must be sacked and charged.”
Arun said that if India wants to become a world leader, it must respect and give equal treatment to all, irrespective of their caste, religion, and gender. An open joint statement undersigned by Dalit and other organisations in the UK was submitted to the High Commissioner of India in London and read as follows:
Open Joint Statement to the High Commissioner of India in London for the attention of the Prime Minister of India – 2 October 2020
1. We the undersigned organisations and our supporters demand immediate justice for Miss Manisha Valmiki who died in hospital on 29 September 2020 from extreme injuries sustained from a brutal gang-rape on 14 September in Hathras, Utter Pradesh (UP), India.
2. Amongst our demands below, we also demand the resignation of the Chief Minister of UP and that the police officers involved be charged under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. Enough is enough!
3. Miss Manisha Valmiki’s is yet another sickening gang rape and murder of a Dalit woman that has caused global outrage. This case raises many serious questions about the apathy of the Indian government, police and the hospital authorities. Despite repeated pleas from the family, the local police failed to register a case of gang rape leaving the accused to roam around free for five days.
4. If Miss Manisha’s death wasn’t enough, the local police officers and officials violated her dead body and cremated it in the middle of the night without allowing members of her family to be present or to carry out the last rites. This is cruelty beyond measure. Furthermore, it is reported the police are stopping politicians meeting the family to support and sympathise with them. It is also reported the family have been threatened and their phones have been confiscated. We will never forgive or forget this – how India is failing its daughters.
5. Miss Manisha’s murder has once again shone a light on India’s horrific Caste system, a system that ranks human value based on the presumed supremacy of the so-called high Castes. India’s Government despite its slogan ‘Beti bachao, beti padhao’ has failed Dalit girls and women. Dalit lives are considered worthless and have been for millennia. Essentially, the Indian Government has failed Indians.
6. The Guardian rightly reported on 1 October “India is the most dangerous country in the world to be a woman and it is women from the lower castes who bear the brunt of the sexual violence”. The 2019 data Crime in India states 10 Dalit women were raped in India everyday. One third of these cases were reported from the lawless states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Reported is the operative word. A culture of patriarchy and maintaining family honour means there are many more that are not formally reported to the police.
7. In other cases there is evidence police fail to even register the crimes. This is unacceptable. These casual rapes and gang rapes of Dalit women and girls, where so-called high Caste rapists go free with impunity point to a failed democracy and sick society.
8. From 2018, the rate of crime against all women in India has risen by 7.3%, with the country recording an average 87 rape cases every day in 2019. India reported 405,861 cases of crimes against women in 2019 and Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 59,853 such incidents, according to the annual National Crime Record Bureau’s “Crime in India” 2019 report.
9. Miss Manisha Valmiki has been subjected to a horrendous, serious and brutal crime. We demand the following:
- Transfer this case outside of UP for a fair and impartial investigation.
- Refer this case to the Criminal Branch of Investigation (CBI). We have no confidence in the local police, and fear they will try to compromise the available evidence.
- Conduct an open and transparent investigation under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 and prosecute those in Government and police officials who are found to have neglected their duties and tried to cover up.
- Take against the police officers for their delay in recording Miss Manisha’s statement.
- The Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts are mandated in the SC ST Act, 2015 for speedy trials.
- Action against officials for not referring the Miss Manisha Valmiki to the AIIMS, Delhi immediately and sending to Safdarjung Hospital instead.
- The officials responsible for cremating Miss Manisha’s body without family’s participation in the last rites of the victim be charged under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.
This Statement is supported by:
All Bhagwan Valmik Sabhas and associated Temples in the UK, Ambedkar Mission Society, Bedford, Anti Caste Discrimination Alliance, Anti Land Grab and Forced Displacement of People, Asian Rationalists Society, Britain, British Ravidassia Heritage Research Group, Buddha Dhamma Association, Southall, Dr Ambedkar Mission Society, Glasgow, Dr Ambedkar Buddhist Organisation, Birmingham, Dr Ambedkar Memorial Trust, London, Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK, Indian Scheduled Caste Welfare Association, UK, Indian Workers’ Association, Great Britain, International Asian Christian Front, Kanshi Radio Ltd, Kanshi TV, Punjab Buddhist Society, UK Samaj Weekly, Sri Guru Ravidass Sabha UK(SGRS-UK), and all associated Temples in the UK, Shri Guru Ravidass Dharmik Sabha Wolverhampton, Shiri Guru Ravidass Cultural Association Darlaston