The Hathras victim was cremated in the middle of the night "to avoid large-scale violence" the next morning, the Uttar Pradesh government told the Supreme Court today citing intelligence inputs of "major law and order problems".
In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the UP government also justified the 2.30 am cremation saying there was a high alert in the district because of the Babri mosque verdict a day later.
"The district administration at Hathras had been receiving several intelligence inputs since the morning of September 29 on the manner in which the dharna had taken place at Safdarjung hospital and the whole issue was being exploited and a caste/communal colour was being given," said UP.
The state said it had received specific inputs that lakhs of protesters "of both communities/castes" along with supporters of political parties and the media would assemble the next morning at the village, "which is likely to turn violent and will lead to major law and order problems."
There was also an alert because of the Babri mosque verdict and coronavirus safety rules, said the affidavit.
"In such extraordinary and severe circumstances, the district administration took the decision to convince the parents of the deceased to cremate her with all religious rites at night to avoid large scale violence in the morning to cremate the body of the victim that was lying for almost more than 20 hours after her death and post-mortem," said the UP government.
It told the court that once the post-mortem had been done, "there cannot be any bad intention" to speed up the cremation "except to obviate the potential violent situation resulting from the planned caste divide by certain vested interests".
There has been national outrage over the manner in which the 20-year-old woman's dead-of-night funeral was performed by cops in the absence of family last Tuesday. The woman, a Dalit, had died in Delhi's Safdarjung hospital earlier that day of serious injuries after being assaulted and allegedly gang raped by four upper caste men at her village on September 14. When news of her death emerged, protests erupted outside the hospital.
The UP police took away her body and drove to her village in Hathras. Her family begged to be allowed to take the body home and even tried to stop the ambulance. They were locked in their home during the funeral.
The UP police insisted that she was cremated at night with "full rites and customs" only in the interest of law and order.
Their affidavit also accused vested interest of spreading a false narrative. It said a Special Investigation Team was set up for a fair probe and the state had already recommended a CBI probe.