The late night cremation was carried out against the wishes of her family sparking angry protesters to scuffle with New Delhi police and burning pictures and effigies of officials

Supporters of India's main opposition Congress party attend a protest after the death of a rape victim, in front of Uttar Pradesh state bhawan (building) in New Delhi, India, September 30, 2020.
Supporters of India's main opposition Congress party attend a protest after the death of a rape victim, in front of Uttar Pradesh state bhawan (building) in New Delhi, India, September 30, 2020. (Reuters)

Protests have erupted in several parts of India following the late night cremation of a gang-rape victim, that was carried out against the wishes of her family.

The 19-year-old victim from the Dalit community, the lowest rung of India's ancient caste system, was attacked and raped on September 14 in a field near her home in Hathras district, 100 kilometres from the capital, New Delhi, authorities said.

She died in hospital on Tuesday from injuries sustained during the attack. 

Police have arrested four men, all from an upper caste, in connection with the rape.

The victim's brother said neither police nor government officials sought the permission of the family to perform the last rites of the victim in her native village in Uttar Pradesh state at about 0730GMT on Wednesday.

READ MORE: One woman reports a rape every 15 minutes in India

Police defied family's wishes

"We begged the authorities and police that we wanted to perform the last rites in the morning but they did not listen to us and the last rites were performed by them," said the victim's brother.

"We were put behind the barricades they formed using the police force. We could not even see the face of our dead sister."

The victim and her brother are not being identified due to laws against naming victims of sexual violence.

Senior Police Officer Vikrant Veer denied the allegations, while the opposition Congress party leader, Rahul Gandhi, described the cremation incident as “abusive and unjust”.

The chief minister of the Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath ordered a special investigation team to handle the case and said it will be tried in a fast-track court.

Violence against Indian women

The crime has caused outrage in India, where violence against women and those of lower castes is endemic. 

Dalits, formerly known as “untouchables” and at the bottom of a racist Hindu caste hierarchy in India, are victims of thousands of attacks each year. 

According to human rights organisations, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to caste-based discrimination and sexual violence.

One of the most shocking attacks in India occured in 2012 when a 23-year-old student was raped and killed on a New Delhi bus. 

The attack galvanised massive protests and inspired lawmakers to order the creation of fast-track courts dedicated to rape cases and stiffen penalties for those convicted of the crime.

Uttar Pradesh, which is ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, ranks as the most unsafe state for women in the country.

Protests around India

In Hathras, protesters were met by police who charged them with batons, a witness said.

In New Delhi, angry protesters, many wearing masks to ward off the novel coronavirus, scuffled with police.

Police detained several women activists in the capital after they tried to march in the street shouting slogans against Modi and Adityanath.

In Kolkota, protesters burned a big picture of Adityanath, who is also a hardline Hindu priest.

The demonstrators carried placards that read: “Stop rape culture.”

Source: TRTWorld and agencies