Unnao rape survivor’s ‘accident’: BJP MLA booked for murder
A day after the Unnao rape survivor and her lawyer were critically injured and two others (aunts of the survivor) killed in a road accident in Rae Bareli, resulting in widespread outrage, the Uttar Pradesh police on Monday booked Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar (currently in jail; he is the main accused in the rape case), his brother and around two dozen others for murder, attempted murder and criminal conspiracy.
With many people dwelling on the convenient accident — the survivor’s father was murdered, allegedly by Sengar’s brother — the state police, which initially seemed to be leaning towards the theory that there was no foul play in the accident, said it would hand over this case too to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) if there was a demand to do so. Later on Monday, the police forwarded the family’s request for a CBI investigation into the accident to the state government, which will now write to the Centre.
The CBI is currently investigating the rape (the survivor was a minor at the time), and the murder of her father. The survivor and the aunt are also primary witnesses in the rape case.
Scrambling to contain the damage, the Yogi Adityanath-led UP government said it will bear all expenses for the treatment of the rape survivor and her lawyer, Mahendra Singh.
Both are on ventilator support at the trauma unit at King George’s Medical University (KGMU) hospital in Lucknow, doctors said.
“The woman was in shock, apart from the fracture in the leg and collar bone, besides head and chest injury. Hence we have shifted her to ventilator support. Her condition is critical but stable,” said Dr Samir Misra, senior faculty, trauma surgery, at KGMU.
The case of murder, attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy against the MLA and the others was filed at the Gurbakshganj police station in Rae Bareli on the basis of a complaint by the rape survivor’s uncle who is in Rae Bareli jail in connection with a case filed under the Arms Act.
“MLA Kuldeep Sengar and his aides use to often threaten my family members to force them to withdraw the (rape) case against him. My wife and others were coming to meet me with papers related to the cases when their vehicle was hit by a truck, on the direction of the MLA,” reads the complaint lodged by the uncle.
On Monday, the mother of the victim too claimed Sengar was behind the accident. “This accident was a conspiracy by the BJP MLA to kill my daughter and family. I want CBI to probe the case,” she said. A person familiar with the matter said the mother had informed Unnao police on July 13 about threats from unidentified people.
“We have lodged an FIR under sections 302(murder), 307(attempt to murder), 506(criminal intimidation) and 120B(criminal conspiracy) of IPC against Sengar, his brother Mahesh Singh Sengar and others,” said superintendent of police(SP), Rae Bareli, Sunil Kumar Singh.
Beside the brother, police have booked Sengar’s aides Vinod Mishra, Haripal Singh, Naveen Singh, Komal Singh, Arun Singh, Gyanendra Singh, Rinku Singh and Avdhesh Singh along with “15-20 unidentified persons” in the matter.
The uncle sought parole to attend the funeral of his wife but Unnao district magistrate Devesh Pandey rejected the application on technical grounds.
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a four-time MLA who represents Bangarmau in the Uttar Pradesh assembly, was arrested in 2018 for allegedly raping the teenage girl at his residence in 2017. That case too was registered on a complaint by the survivor’s uncle, and the family battled for the one-year period in between.
The woman had attempted to immolate herself outside the chief minister’s residence on April 8, 2018 to draw attention to the case. Her father died in police custody shortly after, following an assault by Sengar’s brother and a delay by police to take him to a hospital.
Director general of police (DGP), UP, OP Singh claimed “prima facie, it is a road accident” but added that an investigation is on and that the police are open to the CBI taking over. The driver of the truck was detained from the spot, while the owner was summoned to join investigations. Police are going through their mobile phone records to determine if they were in touch with a third person before the collision. Both are residents of Fatehpur.
Earlier, additional director general (ADG) of Lucknow Zone, Rajeev Krishna told reporters that the bodyguards assigned to the survivor were not with her because she “herself had asked the security personnel not to accompany her.”
The mother of the survivor said, “My daughter asked the police not to accompany her because there was no space in the car.”
The National Commission for Women took cognizance of the incident and wrote a letter to Uttar Pradesh Police requesting them to ensure a speedy investigation into the matter and take action deemed appropriate for the crime committed.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted: “The accident of the rape victim is shocking. What is the status of the CBI probe? Why is the accused legislator still in the BJP? Can we expect justice from the BJP government without getting answers to these questions first?”
BSP leader Mayawati tweeted: “The accident of the Unnao rape victim in Rae Bareli seems to be a conspiracy to kill her. The Supreme Court should take note of it and punish all the culprits.”
Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal visited KGMU trauma centre and assured the victim’s mother of providing better medical treatment if she agreed to shift her to Delhi. After Maliwal, Samajwadi Party leader Juhi Singh, Congress MLAs Aradhana Mishra and Aditi Singh too visited the trauma centre and demanded that the government ensure a free and fair probe, besides security for the family.
UP minister of state for Women and Child Development, Swati Singh, additional chief secretary Avnish Awasthi, chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s advisor Mrityunjay Kumar too visited the trauma centre. The government later announced it would foot the bill for the treatment of the victim and her lawyer.
A CBI team also went to the trauma centre, although agency spokesperson RK Gaur said this was to meet the survivor’s family, not to begin investigation.