The anger over the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district is likely to resonate in neighboring Bihar where assembly elections are scheduled to begin by the end of October. The incident has provided an issue for the Opposition parties in Bihar to corner the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which is ruling Uttar Pradesh under Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
A fortnight after being allegedly gang-raped by four upper caste men, the 19-year-old Dalit woman from Hathras succumbed in a Delhi hospital on September 29. She was cremated by police in the night triggering public outcry amid allegations that the family was not even allowed to be part of the last rites. A few hours later, another 22-year-old Dalit woman died after she had allegedly been gang-raped by two youths in Balrampur district of Uttar Pradesh.
Facing criticism over the crimes, the UP government set up a three-member Special Investigation Team(SIT) to probe the Hathras incident. The government also announced a compensation of Rs 25 Lakh for the victim’s family, a government job for a family member, and a house in Hathras city. But it didn’t stop the Opposition parties, the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Congress, to launch an attack on the BJP.
Bihar will vote in three phases beginning October 28. Chief minister Nitish Kumar-led Janata Dal (United) and its allies in the NDA, including the BJP, are aiming to retain power in the state. The ruling coalition is being challenged by the ‘GrandAlliance’ comprising the Tejashwi Yadav-led Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), the Congress and other smaller parties. BSP chief Mayawati was among the first leaders to blame UP government and UP police for the insensitivity in the crime while demanding resignation of the Chief Minister.