Two days after a village in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras was sealed amid outrage over the death of a 20-year-old woman who was allegedly gang raped and tortured, the borders were re-opened today.
Only reporters can enter the village, a senior official said, adding that political leaders will not be permitted. "The curbs were put in place only to maintain law and order," Joint Magistrate Hathras Prem Prakash Meena said.
Dismissing allegations by the victim's family that they were locked up in their homes and their phones were taken away, he told NDTV: "The allegations by a boy who spoke to some reporters on Friday are baseless. If a child can escape, it shows there were no restrictions on the family. No phones were confiscated."
On Friday, the family of the victim had alleged that they were "not being allowed to come out" of their homes.
A boy from the family who spoke to the reporters said: "They have taken away our phones. My family has sent me here to talk to the reporters. I escaped and came here. They are not letting us come out are they not allowing the media to come in. They are threatening us as well."
"The District Magistrate kicked my uncle in chest... he fainted after he was hit," he added.
In the last two days, several opposition leaders have been stopped from entering the village amid fiery protests.
On Thursday, Congress leaders - Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra - were stopped when they were leading a march to the village. Dramatic visuals showed a face off between the ex-Congress chief, 50, and police chief.
Trinamool Congress leaders Derek O'Brien, along with several other party leaders, on Friday said they were manhandled by the UP police when they were just 1.5 km from the village where the victim lived.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will make another attempt this afternoon to meet the family of the 20-year-old. "Nothing in the world can stop me from going to Hathras to meet this unhappy family to share their pain," Mr Gandhi tweeted this morning.
The 20-year-old who died on Tuesday had suffered multiple fractures, paralysis and severe spinal injury when she was assaulted by four men of the so-called upper castes from her village on September 14. The police said there was a gash in her tongue because she had bitten it when the men were trying to strangle her. The brutality to the woman, who belonged to the Scheduled Castes, and the post-midnight funeral by the police has triggered a widespread outrage.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury and Bhim Army's Chandrashekhar Azad on Friday participated in a protest at Delhi's Jantar Mantar.