Three men accused in the 2020 Hathras gang-rape-murder case, which sparked protests across the country, were acquitted by a court in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday while the main suspect was convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, officials said.
Sandeep Thakur has been convicted under the lesser charge, and not of rape or murder, officials said. The other three accused, Sandeep’s uncle Ravi and their friends Luv Kush and Ramu, were cleared of the charges.
The 20-year-old Dalit woman had died at a Delhi hospital a fortnight after she was allegedly gang-raped at her village in Hathras, some 200 km from Delhi.
In her statement to the police, she said she was dragged by her dupatta into the fields from a spot where she had been cutting grass with her mother and brother.
She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village by the district administration, while her family was locked up in their home, sparking accusations of a cover-up and widespread condemnation of the Yogi Adityanath government.
In horrific signs of torture, the woman had suffered multiple fractures and a gash in her tongue, drawing parallels to the 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape.
Injuries to her neck had left her paralysed and struggling to breathe, said doctors. She bit her tongue when her attackers were trying to strangle her.
The UP police were under scrutiny over alleged lapses throughout the case. They initially registered an attempted murder case but added rape charges only after the woman’s formal statement. All the accused men were from a so-called higher caste.