DMK MP Kanimozhi has been detained by police while leading an all-women’s protest in Chennai against the alleged gang rape and murder of a 20-year-old Dalit woman in UP’s Hathras last month.
Ms Kanimozhi and around 150 others were detained during a candle-light march to Raj Bhavan, the Tamil Nadu Governor’s official residence, to demand justice for the family of the Dalit woman who died at a Delhi hospital last week after suffering severe injuries – including those to the spine – in a savage assault that has drawn comparisons to the 2012 gang rape in Delhi.
“A cruel rape happened in Uttar Pradesh, where a girl was brutally raped. The UP government is trying to hide the rape incident. Since the BJP government has come to power, crime against women has been rising,” Ms Kanimozhi told protesters before she was detained.
DMK chief and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin was also present and also spoke to protesters.
Visuals from Chennai showed hundreds gathered in the city’s Little Mount area, which is around a kilometre from Raj Bhavan, with police barricades set up to stop them from marching any further.
Although prohibitory orders banning large gatherings are in place, the police had given limited permission to protest. However, when the protesters attempted to cross the barricades and march on Raj Bhavan, the cops detained Ms Kanimozhi and others.
Visuals showed three busloads of people being taken away, with the rest being dispersed.
The DMK, the principal opposition in the state, wants the investigation into the Hathras tragedy, which has been handed over to the CBI, to be overseen by a Supreme Court judge. The party, an ally of the Congress, also called on the UP government to apologise for its treatment of the Gandhis.
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were both manhandled by UP police last week, while trying to meet the Dalit woman’s family.
On Thursday, during their first attempt to do so, Mr Gandhi was pushed to the ground by cops who refused to allow a Congress delegation to visit Hathras, citing Covid management guidelines.
Two days later his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, was shoved and had her clothes grabbed by a male cop while trying to protect a party worker during a lathi-charge on the Delhi-UP border.
Yogi Adityanath’s government and the UP police have been facing widespread condemnation over the handling of the Hathras horror.
The administration has been accused of trying to cover up a crime blamed on upper caste Thakurs. The police, apart from their physical confrontation with the Gandhis and other opposition leaders, have been accused of dragging their heels over the investigation.
They were also criticised after taking away the woman’s body and forcibly cremating it, without allowing family members to say goodbye.
On Monday the cops filed 19 FIRs, not against those accused of the assault, but against allegations of a “conspiracy” against the Yogi Adityanath government.