NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: The Hathras gang-rape and murder case got a new twist on Thursday with the UP police trashing the sexual assault claim and spinning out a conspiracy theory instead. Citing a forensic lab report that said no traces of sperm were found in the samples taken from the victim’s body, ADG Law and Order Prashant Kumar claimed she wasn’t raped. But the report’s value was questionable as the samples were lifted eight days after the assault.
Soon, ADG Kumar ran into a brick wall of criticism as experts described his inference as “extremely irresponsible, unprofessional and erroneous”. Legal experts recalled that the 2013 amendment in rape laws waived the clause that had made it necessary to establish ‘penetration’ in such crimes. They also questioned the inordinate delay in the conducting the medical examination of the victim.
A senior scientific officer at a government forensic department said: “As a general norm, after 72 hours of such an offence, it is difficult to get traces of semen. So, it is crucial to send the sample for examination within 72 hours.” In the Hathras case, the samples collected on the eight day after the assault reached the lab on the eleventh day.
Former DGP of UP police Vikram Singh said the horrific Nirbhaya tragedy had brought reforms in the rape law and it was made clear that penetration is not necessary to establish the offence. “So, to presume that rape did not happen just because semen was not found is an erroneous conclusion. It is more so given the fact that the medical examination was conducted eight days after the incident,” said Singh. He described the response of the UP police as “shoddy and unprofessional”.
Another former UP police chief, who did not wish to be named, said it was “obvious that the UP police have jumped to conclusions. As per law, the so-called absence of semen is not enough to conclude that the woman was not raped, especially when we know there were injuries to her private parts.” A T Ansari, who was a special prosecutor in the Nirbhaya case, said: “The existing law has changed the definition of rape. It has also done away with the two-finger test used by doctors on victims to establish rape.” He said even applying mouth or touching private parts has also been classified as offences involving sexual assault.
Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court took suo motu cognizance of the case.
A three-member SIT arrived in the village of the victim and recorded the statements of her family members and relatives. The SIT would stay in Hathras for three days
Sept 14: Assailants drag young woman from behind using her duppatta into the nearby field where she was working around 9 am, try to strangulate her
FIR lodged at Chandpa police station names one person based on complaint of vicitm’s brother Initially taken to Bagla Joint District Hospital at Hathras. Shifted to AMU’s JN Medical College and Hospital (JNMCH) around 4.10 pm on the same day
conscious during admission at JNMCH, had ligature mark in the neck, which indicate strangulation. Her C6 vertebra had fracture and spinal cord was damaged. Later she passes out
Sept 22: Victim regains consciousness, records statement before magistrate under Section 164 of CrPC alleging gang-rape by four persons, names all four. Police add Section 376 D (gang-rape) to the original FIR, arrest all accused. Samples taken at JNCMH to confirm sexual assault
Sept 25: Samples sent by JNMCH reach Agra forensic lab
Sept 28: Victim turns critical, shifted to Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi
Sept 29: Succumbs to injuries at 6.55 am. Body handed over to UP Police, which takes it to Hathras at night
Sept 30: Police cremate in the wee hours allegedly in the absence of family members and without their consent
Oct 1: Agra forensic lab report says no evidence of sperm or semen in samples lifted from the victim, police cite it to push their no-rape theory