Rape-tainted leaders push BJP on back foot

The CBI, meanwhile, has arrested a woman, identified as Shashi Singh, the woman who allegedly took the victim to Sengar on the day of the crime.

The BJP is facing political heat due to its leaders being named in separate sexual assault cases in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao and Shahjahanpur that have sparked public outrage.

Lucknow: Two rape cases in Uttar Pradesh are causing huge embarrassment to the BJP due to the involvement of its leaders. While the CBI is still carrying out its probe into the Unnao case where the main accused is BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, the other rape case, involving former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand and her follower, is being closed by the prosecution due to “false allegations”.

Both the cases have a few things in common. The victim in both the cases is known to the politician accused. There is some delay in formally filing a complaint and alleged inconsistencies in the version of the victim. While the accused BJP leaders in both the case have claimed innocence, the party cannot help but pay a heavy price for the damage done to its image by the two alleged sexual assault cases.

If ever there was a classic example of friends turning foes and neighbours turning enemies outside Bollywood films, it is in the Unnao rape case in Uttar Pradesh.

The accused, BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, and the rape victim's father Surendra Singh, who died two weeks ago in judicial custody, were thick as thieves till about a decade ago when political ambitions clouded their friendship. As Sengar’s political stature grew, there was heartburn among the friends. The BJP leader got his sister-in-law elected as the village head and then his wife Sangeeta to

Villagers said that the rape victim's uncle wanted his wife to contest the gram pradhan elections but Sengar got his brother's wife to contest and win the same. Then when the zila panchayat elections were announced, the MLA’s wife Sangeeta Sengar became the zila panchayat head and Surendra Singh and his brother felt slighted.

When the girl finally named the MLA in the rape case in June last year, the Sengar family was shocked. The girl's family alleged that they went to police who refused to file FIR. They finally went to court and till April this year the hearing in the matter was going on.

The girl’s medical examination was not done at any stage and the police kept delaying it - a major setback for the victim which may weaken the case against the accused.

The girl was reportedly abducted on June 4, 2017, and her mother reported her missing on June 11. The FIR was registered and on June 20, the girl was rescued from Auraiyya by police.

“My name was not there in the FIR and even when the girl recorded her statement under section 164 CrPC before a magistrate, she did not name me, Later on, when the family thought that they could use this case to settle political scores with me, they included my name,” Sengar told this correspondent, hours before he was arrested by the CBI on April 14.

A video of her statement to the media after she was rescued, proved as correct the MLA’s version. Principal home secretary Arvind Kumar also confirmed that Sengar was not named in the victim's initial statement.

In the video recording, the girl is seen saying that her sister-in-law had tutored her for a month and persuaded her to run away with her alleged lover, Shubham. In the statement, she claims that she left home in a car with Shubham and his driver Naresh Tiwari. The girl says that the two raped her in the car and then took her to a house where she was locked up.

“Two-three more boys came and did ‘galat kaam’ (rape) with me. They then took me to Auraiyya district and sold me for Rs 60,000 to one Yadav ji whose brother also raped me. I remained there till the police rescued me,” she says in the video.

In the video, the girl, then 16-year-old, makes no mention of the MLA or his brother.

In another video, the girl’s uncle supports her theory and says that his niece was abducted, raped and sold in Auraiyya. Even he does not mention the MLA as an accused.

The Bangermau MLA's wife Sangeeta Senger, who is presently in hospital after she fainted two days ago, says, “I am asking for a narco test for the girl, her uncle and even my husband so that the truth can come out. The girl is being tutored by our political rivals.”

The MLA’s wife, Sangeeta, also questions the girl’s silence for almost nine months. “If the police was not taking action on her complaint and if my husband was involved, why did she not come to Lucknow to meet the chief minister earlier?” asked the MLA's wife.

Another family member of Sengar said that there was a possibility of his being inducted into the Council of Ministers in the much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle. “This rape complaint is probably aimed at tarnishing his image and thwarting his elevation,” he says.

In March-end, the girl and her family members started sending complaints against the MLA and his family to the state government seeking action against him for the alleged rape last year.

According to reports, when the MLA’s brother, Atul, learnt that the victim’s family was trying to drag his brother’s name into the case again — after the similar first attempt in June 2017 — he confronted the rape victim's father Surendra Singh on April 3. The argument between the two turned violent and Surendra Singh was badly beaten up by Atul Sengar and his men.

The police booked Surendra Singh under Section 25 for possessing illegal firearms and sent him to jail even though he had serious injuries. Reports claim that the MLA’s brother and his men beat up the girl's father while he was in police custody.

On April 8, the girl attempted suicide outside the chief minister’s home in Lucknow, accusing him of shielding the MLA. The rape victim's father died on April 9 in police custody — bringing the case into public glare.

His post mortem report showed 14 injuries on his body and blamed septicemia and intestinal perforation, caused by injury, for his death. This forcing the state government to suspend six policemen, arrest four accused, all associates of the MLA, who assaulted the girl’s father .

Meanwhile, another video clip has emerged in which the badly bruised Surendra Singh is heard naming Atul Sengar as the main accused for the assault on him on April 3. The video was apparently shot when Surendra Singh was taken for medical checkup. Atul Sengar, who has a criminal background and has been booked for shooting at a police official and a journalist, was arrested a day later.

The immolation bid by the girl, followed by the custodial death of her father, and case, which has been a cause of huge embarrassment for the BJP, made national headlines. The Opposition tore into the Yogi Adityanath government and the mounting public pressure forced the chief minister to set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident and subsequently handover the matter to CBI on April 13.

The NHRC took suo motu cognizance of reports on the “mysterious death of a rape victim's father in judicial custody in Unnao” and issued a notice to the UP government and the police chief, seeking a report in the case. It asked the authorities to ensure “the aggrieved family is not subjected to further harassment”.

The SIT visited the Makhi village on April 11 and faced huge resistance from MLA’s supporters who claimed that he was being framed in the case. The girl’s family, on the other hand, came up with posters in which the MLA has been depicted as Ravana.

The 10-page report submitted by the SIT admitted that the local police had botched up the case to save the MLA’s brother in the case related to the custodial death of the victim's father. The SIT report said that a deeper probe into the role of jail staff and the doctors in the matter was needed.

The CBI, meanwhile, has arrested a woman, identified as Shashi Singh, the woman who allegedly took the victim to Sengar on the day of the crime.

The CBI FIR, registered on the basis of the complaint of the victim's mother, said that Shashi Singh stood guard while the MLA was raping her daughter last year.

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