Justice should be given to the men accused of gang raping the 20-year-old woman from Hathras, a meet of the so-called upper caste men demanded today. The call came days after the postmortem report from the Forensic Sciences Laboratory said the woman, who belongs to the Scheduled Castes, was not raped.
The alleged sexual assault and the woman's horrific injuries had shocked the country and after her death last Tuesday, parallels have been drawn between the case and the 23-year-old raped and tortured in Delhi in 2012, dubbed Nirbhaya.
The Yogi Adityanath government has been under pressure over the police handling of the case, which included a 2 am cremation of the woman's body, while her family was kept locked up.
This morning, around 500 people, including the family of one of the accused, gathered at the house of BJP Leader Rajveer Singh Pehelwan, who said he is involved "in a personal capacity". Alleging that the four men arrested have been falsely accused, they said justice must be given to them.
The men have been charged with rape. Murder charges were added after the woman died at a Delhi hospital on September 29.
There have also been allegations that the woman's family has falsely accused the men, and there have been demands that they undergo a narco-analysis test.
Joint Magistrate Prem Prakash Meena told NDTV that he was not aware of the ongoing meet. "There is no pressure on the victim's family. Political leaders can meet the family in groups of five," he added.
"We have informed the police about the meet. A First Information Report should be filed against the family of the woman (victim). The accused have been falsely targeted," one of the organisers said.
On Friday too, men of the so-called upper castes held another meeting. Large gatherings remain banned in the district amid public outrage over the brutality. Technically, today's meet did not need police permission as it is being held at a private residence.
Congress's Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were stopped by the police while they were on way to meet the family in Hathras on Thursday.
On Saturday, they made another attempt, which was briefly stopped midway with a clash between Congress workers and Uttar Pradesh police at the toll plaza on the Delhi-Noida Direct Flyover.
"No force can silence us," Mr Gandhi told the media after the meeting with the family.
Today, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and a delegation of the Samajwadi Party met the family.
The Bhim Army chief marched for about five km after he was stopped by the police for the first time when he was on his way. He was stopped again when he entered Hathras and was told "not all the people accompanying him could go along".