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After furious protests, UP CM recommends CBI probe

New Delhi/Hathras: Amid nationwide outrage and mounting political pressure, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday recommended a CBI probe into the alleged gang-rape and death of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras.

The decision was announced by the Chief Minister's Office minutes after Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wound up their visit to the home of the victim's family.

Hours earlier, UP Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi and Director General of Police H C Awasthi too had travelled from Lucknow to meet the family.

"Whatever points and the complaints they have raised, the SIT will note them, and we will make all efforts to ensure that each of them is addressed," he added. Authorities also allowed the media to enter the village, lifting restrictions imposed earlier.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered that a probe should be conducted by the CBI into the entire Hathras episode, the CM's Office said, its tweet capping a day of protests and criticism over the handling of the case by the BJP government in the state.

Later, Adityanath said the state government is seeking an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation for a probe into all aspects linked to the Hathras episode.

"We are determined to ensure the harshest punishment for all those responsible for this incident," he tweeted in Hindi.

Reacting to the announcement, the family members of the victim said they want a Supreme Court-monitored inquiry.

The Dalit teen died of her grievous injuries in the early hours of Tuesday at a Delhi hospital, a fortnight after she was attacked.

She was cremated secretly in the dead of night near her home on Wednesday — in a savage manner that has shocked the nation. Her family alleged that they were not allowed to see her for one last time and their repeated pleas went unheard as the question remains over who actually ordered her cremation, locking up her family members and preventing them from attending her last rites.

Also, Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said on Thursday that the forensic report of the Hathras victim shows that the woman was not raped despite her dying declaration.

After media and political leaders were allowed to meet the victim's family, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday evening paid a visit to Hathras to meet the grieving kin, declaring they will fight for justice to the young Dalit woman.

"We will fight against injustice, and fight till justice is done," Priyanka Gandhi told reporters after the meeting that lasted about 45 minutes.

Hitting out at the Yogi Adityanath dispensation, Priyanka said the UP government is "morally corrupt".

"The victim did not get treatment, her complaint was not registered on time, her body was forcibly cremated, the family is in captivity, they are being suppressed — now they are being threatened that they will have to undergo a narco test," she said in a tweet in Hindi. "This behaviour is not acceptable to the country. Stop threatening the victim's family," she said.

Rahul Gandhi said no power can stifle the voice of the family.

A similarly dramatic face-off to that of Thursday seemed in store on Saturday as Rahul set off from Delhi at around 2.30 pm in a silver Toyota Innova that Priyanka Gandhi was driving. Their convoy consisted of around 30 Congress MPs, including Shashi Tharoor. Hathras is around 200 km from Delhi.

A massive force of around 200 cops — some in riot gear and wielding lathis — was deployed at the toll plaza along the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) Flyover with definite instructions to not allow Congress leaders to cross the border.

Visuals showed huge numbers of cops and metal barricades, leading many to question where the cops were when needed to deal with crimes against women in the state.

In a slightly anti-climactic moment, however, a UP government that has been severely criticised for its handling of this tragic case — including its treatment of the young woman's traumatised family, whom they allegedly locked up in their homes — seemed to give in to the pressure and allowed Rahul, Priyanka and two others — KC Venugopal and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury — to cross.

As the Congress delegation from Delhi prepared to make its way to Hathras, its Uttar Pradesh unit president Ajay Kumar Lallu alleged he had been put under house arrest.

In Agra, scores of protesters from the Valmiki community pelted stones at policemen and government vehicles.

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