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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Hidden number plate, missing security: Unanswered questions in Unnao accident

Police sources said the car was hit head-on by a truck, giving its driver -- victim’s lawyer Mahendra Singh -- hardly any time to move away

india Updated: Jul 30, 2019 11:23 IST
Chandan Kumar
Chandan Kumar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Police and people stand near the wreckage of the car in which the Unnao rape survivor was travelling during its collision with a truck near Raebareli, Sunday, July 28, 2019.
Police and people stand near the wreckage of the car in which the Unnao rape survivor was travelling during its collision with a truck near Raebareli, Sunday, July 28, 2019. (PTI)
         

The circumstances in which the Unnao rape survivor, who had accused Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of sexually assaulting her, and her lawyer were critically injured in a road mishap have raised suspicions. Two of the victim’s aunts also died in the accident on Sunday.

Police sources said the car was hit head-on by a truck, giving its driver -- victim’s lawyer Mahendra Singh -- hardly any time to move away.

“Prima facie it appears that the victim was sitting behind the lawyer. Her aunt’s sister sat next to her, while her aunt sat beside the lawyer in the front,” said an officer in the forensics team on condition of anonymity. “The lawyer tried to steer the car to his right when it collided with the truck,” he said.

The victim’s aunt was a key witness in the rape case against Sengar.

Also Read |UP government recommends CBI probe into Unnao rape survivor’s road accident

The second fact that has raised questions is that the registration number plates of the empty truck, which was reportedly on its way to Banda, were blackened. Also, none of the three police constables, who should have been guarding the victim, were present at the time of the mishap.

The victim’s uncle, who is lodged at the Rae Bareli district jail, has claimed that the group was on its way to meet him with papers of the case in which Sengar is an accused.

“The police personnel in her security told the MLA about this and he planned the attack while they were on their way to meet me with the case papers,” read the police complaint lodged by him.

Vimal Kumar Yadav, an assistant to the victim’s lawyer, also questioned the circumstances of the accident. “There was not much traffic on the road when the accident occurred.

This together with the fact that the police personnel deployed for the victim’s security were missing raises several questions regarding the ‘mishap’,” he said.

Investigators, however, are calling it an accident. Additional director general (ADG) of Police Lucknow Zone, Rajeev Krishna, while speaking to the press on Monday, said, “We are looking into every aspect of the case to allay any suspicion of foul play. So far, we have not come across anything that points towards foul play.”

The officer reiterated that the victim herself asked the constables deployed for her security to stay back, as there was not enough space in their car.

“A total of nine constables were deployed for her security. Three of these accompanied the victim whenever she was on the move. However, if she herself asked the constables to stay back, they would have had to respect her choice,” said the ADG.

Also Read | Unnao rape survivor’s ‘accident’: BJP MLA booked for murder

Commenting about the truck involved in the accident, the officer said, “We have detained the driver, the cleaner and the owner of the truck. They were returning to Banda district after delivering sand in Rae Bareli. The owner has said that he painted the number plate to make it difficult for his financiers to identify the truck, as he could not pay them in time.”

The ADG said that the police were looking into the call details of the trio to identify the people they were in touch with prior to the mishap.

The incident has given a new twist to the ongoing cases involving the victim and Sengar that began in 2017, when she first accused the MLA of raping her using the pretext of arranging a job for her. In April 2018, she attempted immolation outside the residence of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow, after which the matter gained prominence.

On April 9, 2018, the victim’s father, who was lodged in the Unnao district jail, died after being allegedly brutally thrashed by the MLA’s aides. A total of three cases were lodged at the Makhi police station in the matter, which were later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Also Read | ‘Mother informed Unnao police about threats on July 13’