The two women, originally from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, were Dalits – the lowest ranked in the caste hierarchy in India, according to the All India Mahila Congress, the women’s wing of the main opposition party Indian. Dalits, who were referred to as “untouchables” in the past, still face severe discrimination in India.
The 22-year-old’s family told police in a statement that she did not return home in the town of Balrampur until late Tuesday evening; when they tried to call her, they couldn’t reach her.
“Some time later the woman came home in a rickshaw and had a tube attached to her arm which is usually used for administering glucose, she appeared to be in poor condition so the family took her to. hospital but she died on the way, ”said Dev Ranjan Verma, police superintendent in Balrampur, on Wednesday.
Two men were arrested for alleged rape and murder, Verma said. The woman’s family received 600,000 rupees (about $ 8,165) and were assured that the police and the district would provide all the assistance needed, Verma added.
India’s caste system was officially abolished in 1950, but the 2000-year-old social hierarchy imposed on people by birth still exists in many aspects of life. The caste system categorizes Hindus at birth, defining their place in society, the jobs they can do and who they can marry with.
According to human rights organizations, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based violence and discrimination.
The 19-year-old’s death sparked protests in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, which have spread to major cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, and are still ongoing.
Hundreds of angry protesters chanted and waved banners as they marched through the streets of Hathras. Some protesters gathered in front of the Delhi hospital where she died; another protest took place near the Indian president’s residence, where dozens of people were detained for violating pandemic restrictions.
Public anger escalated after allegations that the victim’s body was cremated by Hathras police without his family’s consent – which both police and the district magistrate have denied. Magistrate Praveen Kumar Laxkar told reporters on Tuesday that the family was present at the cremation.
The state government said on Wednesday that a special investigation will look into the 19-year-old’s rape allegations and that the investigation team will have seven days to submit its report. Once the investigation is completed, the four men’s hearings will take place in a fast-track court, according to state government spokesman Mrityunjay Kumar.
The woman’s family also received compensation of around $ 34,000, government employment for a family member and a new house in the village, he added in a statement.
CNN’s Swati Gupta contributed to this report.