A 20-year-old woman, on a visit home from the United States where she studied, died in Bulandshahr in a road accident, which her family alleged happened because two motorcycle-borne men were following her two-wheeler and harassing her, officials said Tuesday.
The daughter of a tea-shop owner, Sudiksha Bhati died on Monday morning near Aurangabad when she was riding pillion on a motorcycle with her younger brother, a minor, they said.
The two were en route to their maternal uncle's home in Bulandshahr's Khanpur area from their house at Deri Scanar village in Gautam Buddh Nagar's Dadri tehsil, the officials said.
The eldest among six siblings, Bhati had an envious academic record.
"She got admitted in our school in 2011 in Class 6. In 2018, she scored 98 per cent marks in class 12 examination and topped the district," said Bishwajit Banerjee, the principal of Sikandrabad Vidyagyan School, Bulandshahr.
She then went onto win a Rs 3.8-crore scholarship from Babson College, Massachusetts (US), and was pursuing a graduation course in entrepreneurship, he said.
Her family members said she had come to India due to the coronavirus pandemic and was scheduled to go back to the US on August 20.
They also alleged that while going to her maternal uncle Monday, she was being harassed by the two unidentified persons during the ride which led to the accident.
Additional Superintendent of Police (City) Atul Kumar Srivastava said there was traffic on the route when the accident happened.
"A Bullet (a Royal Enfield motorcycle) which was moving ahead of them suddenly stopped due to braking, and the two-wheeler of Sudiksha Bhati and her brother rammed into it from behind."
"She suffered injuries in the crash and was taken to a community health centre but she died," he said.
Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police HC Awasthy said, "There is definitely an accident. People will be questioned during probe, and the investigation will proceed according to what comes to light."
"A motorcycle was going ahead, and accident happened after its brakes were applied. After the motorcycles collided, the girl fell down and got injured. She was taken to a hospital, where unfortunately she died," he said.
He said it has come to light that the two were not wearing helmets.
The district police filed a first information report against two unidentified people on the basis of a complaint by Sudiksha's father Jitendra Bhati, officials said.
The FIR has been lodged under IPC sections 279 (rash driving on a public way), 304A (causing death due to negligence), 184 (dangerous driving), 192 (fabricating false evidence), among others, the officials added.
Political rivals Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress attacked the BJP-led UP government over the law and order situation in the state.
'How will daughters progress? The UP government should take strict legal action against the culprits immediately, this is a demand from the BSP,' BSP supremo and former chief minister Mayawati tweeted in Hindi.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also sent out tweets criticising the Yogi Adityanath government.
'It seems the administration does not take incidents of eve-teasing seriously,' she said in her tweet in Hindi.
In another tweet, she posted an old video of the woman delivering an 'emotional speech'.
'This daughter of UP said that many girls of her age have to leave studies due to eve-teasing,' the Congress leader said.
'Today, this problem has killed Sudiksha. The government will ask where is the solution to the problem? The solution to the problem is in the voice of daughters? Only if you listen.'
By Tuesday evening, the Bulandshahr Senior Superintendent of Police constituted a three-member SIT, led by Circle Officer (city) Diksha Singh, to probe the matter.
The other two members of the teams are crime branch officials.
The incident drew the attention of National Commission for Women (NCW) and its chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote to the UP Police chief asking him to ensure a swift, fair and thorough investigation and submit an action taken report at the earliest.
'Considering the gravity of the matter, it is requested that CCTV footage may be checked,' she said in the letter.
In a purported video that has surfaced on social media, Bhati's brother said, "We were on a motorcycle at a speed of 30 km per hour. The men on the Bullet were riding near us and applied brakes on their vehicle suddenly...The Bullet had 'Jat Boys' inscribed on its number plate and its number started with UP-13."
ASP Srivastava, however, said the woman's brother had not mentioned anything about harassment to the police at the time of the incident.
District Magistrate Ravindra Kumar said, "We are inquiring into the allegations of harassment. We'll record statements of people concerned and gather video footages.
"Arguments and counter-arguments will be taken into account and probe carried out as per evidence."
He also clarified that it was the younger brother of the woman and not the uncle, as being told by some people, who was riding the two-wheeler.
The DM and the Superintendent of Police (city) also visited the accident site.
According to the woman's uncle, the younger brother, a minor, was riding the motorcycle without a helmet, the DM added.
He said officials in Bulandshahr are trying to contact Sudiksha's family in Dadri, but have been unable to reach them over the phone.
They have been sent to their home and further investigation is underway, he added.