Stepping up their attack on the Uttar Pradesh government over the Hathras gang-rape case, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accused it of being insensitive and unethical, and said authorities are indulging in victim-blaming instead of putting criminals in jail.
Four men allegedly attacked and raped a 19-year-old Dalit woman from Hathras district in Uttar Pradesh. The woman died at a hospital in Delhi last month, two weeks after the alleged torture that triggered widespread outrage.
The Congress leaders launched a social media campaign, urging people to speak up for the Hathras victim.
"The government's attitude in the Hathras incident is inhuman and unethical. They are engaged in protecting the criminals rather than helping the victim's family," Rahul Gandhi said.
"Let us take one step towards change, let us raise our voice against the injustice being done to women all over the country," he said in a tweet in Hindi, using the hashtag "SpeakUpForWomenSafety".
हाथरस घटना में सरकार का रवैया अमानवीय और अनैतिक है। वे पीड़ित परिवार की मदद करने की बजाए अपराधियों की रक्षा करने में लगे हैं।— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) October 12, 2020
आइये, देशभर में महिलाओं पर हो रहे अन्याय के ख़िलाफ़ आवाज़ उठायें- एक क़दम बदलाव की ओर।#SpeakUpForWomenSafetypic.twitter.com/ZZQHzdSuaq
The former Congress president said a few days ago, before he could reach Hathras, he was stopped by authorities. "I fail to understand, why was I stopped and not allowed to meet with the Hathras victim's family."
Rahul Gandhi alleged that the moment he reached the victim's house and talked to her family, the government started attacking the family.
"It is not the government's job to help and protect the accused in a crime but send them to jail and help the victim get justice. The Uttar Pradesh government is not doing its job and that is why I am being stopped," he said in a nearly two-minute video attached with his tweet.
The video clip also shows footage of his visit to Hathras and how he was stopped.
"I want to tell the government to start doing its job of sending the criminals to jail and protect the victims. This is not the story of just one woman, this is the story of lakhs of women in India. Lakhs of women are looking up to the government, which is not doing its work," Rahul Gandhi said.
"We all need to exert pressure on the government and help change the society, because what is being done to the mothers and daughters in the country is grossly unjust," he added.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said crimes against women are rising and instead of listening to the truth and the voice of the victim women, allegations are levelled against them and they are defamed.
"This is the most shameful and cowardly act," she said.
"But the country's women will no longer remain silent. If one sister is victimised, then lakhs of others will raise their voice and stand with them. We will now take responsibility for our own safety. Now only women will have to take the responsibility of women safety," she said in a tweet in Hindi.
The 20-year-old woman from Hathras was allegedly gang-raped and assaulted by four "upper caste" men from her village. The state government has come under heavy criticism over the handling of the case that many have compared to the 2012 gang rape in Delhi, which called for stricter laws. A large part of that criticism has been about the treatment of the young woman's traumatised family allegedly locked up in their home while the victim was hastily cremated.
The state government has said that some people were trying to instigate caste tensions in the aftermath of the incident. Quoting an FSL (forensic science laboratory) report, it has denied the rape charges. The probe into the case has been taken over by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).