Days after an alleged gangrape victim set herself on fire, and the police registered a case against 16 people from Shyampur Jat village of Hapur district, hundreds of villagers reached the office of Additional Director General (ADG) of Police Prashant Kumar on Tuesday to demand a “fair investigation” into the case. The Hapur rape victim is currently undergoing treatment in New Delhi where she was referred to with 70 per cent a few days ago.

The ADGP lent an ear to the villagers and gave assurance of proper investigation even as the latter said the woman had falsely implicated the people named as accused in the case.

Led by pradhan Rajan Sirohi and former pradhans Jaiveer Singh, Anil Kumar and Ridku Singh, the villagers handed over a memorandum to Kumar demanding fair investigation into the charges levelled by the woman. Among the villagers were the woman’s husband, Pramod, and many women from Shyampur Jat.

Accusing of the woman of implicating the men to “extract money”, the villagers requested the police to make arrests only after thorough investigation.

The incident came to light after a video of the woman became viral on social media. The video showed the woman levelling rape charges against the villagers and accusing the Hapur police of inaction. He also blamed her father and aunt of selling her to her husband for Rs 10,000. She accused her husband of sending her as domestic help to some households in the village where she was allegedly harassed and raped . She apparently went to the police but was denied any help. Consequently, she resorted to self-immolation. The incident reportedly took place in Moradabad.

The woman was first taken to a hospital in Ghaziabad from where she was later referred to Delhi.

After the video went viral, Delhi Commission of Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal took cognisance of the matter and wrote to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath seeking justice for the woman.

A case was then registered against 16 villagers at Babugarh police station on May 12 and the Hapur superintendent of police sent a team to the village for investigation.

Meanwhile, the woman’s husband Pramod claimed that the charges were “baseless” and an “attempt to extort money”.  The woman married Pramod in 2012 after she got separated from first husband in 2009. In three and a half years of married life, the couple had two sons while the woman had another son from her first marriage.

Four years ago, Pramod said, the woman eloped with one Kartik, a neighbour, and the two had been living together in Moradabad. He said attempts were made by the village elders to convince her to return to her husband but she refused.

The woman had accused her father of selling her for Rs 10,000 to Pramod who allegedly compelled her to work as a domestic help in the houses of those villagers from whom he had borrowed money. According to the woman, she she was raped and harassed for the three years of her married life.

Pradhan Rajan Sirohi said villagers of different castes and of the age group of 18 to 55 years had been named in the FIR. “We have no idea why she set her on fire,” he said, claiming that they came to know about the charges only from the video that was circulating.

Meanwhile, the woman’s parents were summoned by the Hapur police. Circle officer Rajesh Kumar Singh said they denied the allegation that they sold her off to Pramod, and that her charges against the villages were also baseless.