Above: Rape accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar coming out of the CBI court in Lucknow/Photo: UNI
The shocking attack on a minor girl and her brave and futile fight to get justice show the callousness of a compromised police and casts doubts on Yogi Adityanath’s claims of the state being safe for women
~By Atul Chandra in Lucknow
Yogi Adityanath, who loves to pat himself on the back for making Uttar Pradesh safe for women, faced his first severe test when he appeared to have ignored a minor girl’s immolation bid outside his official 5, Kalidas Marg residence on April 8. While the girl was saved, she left the government and the UP police badly singed.
The girl, in her complaint, accused Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP MLA from Bangarmau in Unnao, of rape and harassment, and complained of inaction by a biased police. Despite the charge being as serious as rape, DGP OP Singh ruled out the arrest of the “honourable vidhayakji” or including his name in the FIR before an investigation.
The suicide bid also did not spur the DGP and other senior police officers in the state capital to take the girl’s complaint seriously and at least look into the role of their junior colleagues in Unnao’s Maakhi village to which the victim belongs. They intended to hand over the case to the crime branch, which is known more for hushing up matters than bringing culprits to book.
It was only after the girl’s father died on April 9 due to grievous internal injuries that the police top brass woke up. The injuries were caused by the legislator’s brother, Atul Sengar, who, after having beaten him brutally, handed over the man to the police who kept him in judicial custody. The man’s death exposed how the police and government doctors colluded with a criminal politician to intimidate the hapless girl and her family.
The complicit police obliged the Sengars by implicating the rape victim’s father in several false cases, including one under the Arms Act “to pressurise them to fall in line with the dictates of Kuldeep Singh”. This was done after the girl’s mother approached the chief judicial magistrate (CJM) by filing an application under Section 156(3), CrPC, on February 12, 2018, the Allahabad High Court pointed out.
Based on this application, the Unnao CJM sought a report from the Maakhi police but the latter chose to delay sending the report. It was only after the victim’s father died that a case was hurriedly registered against Kuldeep Singh Sengar on April 12, 2018, under Sections 363, 366, 376, 506, IPC, and 3/4 of the POCSO Act (FIR No. 0096) for alleged rape on June 4, 2017.
The High Court took suo motu cognisance of the case and termed the situation “breakdown of law and order in the state”. Taking a grim view of the development, the Court said: “What is disturbing is… that the father of the prosecutrix came to be arrested and was in custody where, we are informed, he was mercilessly beaten and succumbed to the injuries…We fail to understand why the Investigating Agency, instead of arresting accused persons, arrested the complainant in connection with the case.”
As the police did not include Sengar’s name in the girl’s complaint, she decided to write to the chief minister in her own handwriting about the events of June 4, 2017, and between June 11 and 20, 2017, and alleged that Kuldeep Sengar raped her on June 4, 2017.
The High Court said that the “complaint was endorsed to the Superintendent of Police, Unnao, by the Special Secretary to the Chief Minister to make investigation and submit a report within a week. But till midnight of 11 April, 2018, no crime/FIR was registered against Kuldeep Singh and his aid (sic)”.
As per the girl’s complaint, she was enticed on the night of June 11, 2017, by her neighbour, Awdhesh, on the pretext of providing her a job. Awdhesh and another person, Shubham, raped her repeatedly in a car. She tried to escape, but was beaten and intimidated. She was kept in the custody of Shubham in his house, where she was repeatedly raped by other persons, her complaint with the Court said. The Court noted that “from the narration of facts, it appears that the accused named and unnamed… were known to Kuldeep Singh”.
The victim alleged that she was sold for Rs 60,000 to some person at Agra. In the early hours of June 20, 2017, the police found her and took her to Maakhi police station. It was also alleged that en route she was continuously threatened and warned by the police officials to say whatever she would be instructed or else her father would be killed, as was directed by Kuldeep Singh.
Based on her complaint, the Court said: “Serious allegation has been made … against the conduct of the officials of Police Station Maakhi, Station House Officer and medical doctor. It is alleged that she was not examined by the doctor, rather, the doctor advised (her) to maintain good relation with Kuldeep Singh. Thereafter, on 30 June 2017, her parents took her … to Delhi in (a) frightened and tormented mental state. At the place of her uncle (chacha) at Delhi, she disclosed to her aunt (chachi) that she was raped by Kuldeep Singh on 4 June 2017. Prosecutrix was thereafter taken by her chachi to Lucknow to get the FIR registered against Kuldeep Singh, doctor, Station House Officer and Superintendent of Police, Unnao. Since no cognizance of her complaint was taken or it was reduced to writing, she made written complaint to the CM…”
The police claimed that the FIR was lodged by the girl’s family under Sections 363/366 of the IPC for abducting a minor to compel her for marriage. She was subsequently rescued, the police said, and three men were jailed for rape under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after her statement before a judicial magistrate. Two female relatives of one of the men were also among the accused but were given a clean chit.
The girl’s family lodged a new case against Sengar and his family on April 4, 2018, for assaulting her father. Investigation was said to be on when the girl decided to attempt suicide. The family was being continuously harassed by Sengar and his men and the teenager, who was sent to Maakhi under police escort, had told the police: “Our lives are in danger.”
The extent of police complicity in shielding Sengar can be better gauged from the fact that despite the girl’s complaint of rape, first by Sengar and then others over eight days of her confinement last year, the police did not collect evidence from her private parts. With crucial evidence missing, the CBI, which is now investigating the case, has been forced to start the probe afresh by rebuilding the sequence of events.
It was only after Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale and Justice Sumeet Kumar rapped the government for “being directly in league and under influence of the MLA” that the CBI arrested him on April 13. Government doctors—Chief Medical Superintendent DK Dwivedi and emergency medical officer Prashant Upadhyay—have been suspended.
The government also suspended the circle officer of Safipur, Kunwar Baha-dur Singh, for ignoring the repeated complaints of the victim. Before his arrest, the MLA denied the charges as a conspiracy to malign his image and said it was the handiwork of the girl’s father and uncle who had a criminal background. To prove his innocence, he nonchalantly reached the office of SSP, Lucknow, where he was not required, and told mediapersons that he had gone there to show that he had not committed any crime.
During the 2017 Vidhan Sabha election campaign, the BJP had ripped apart the Akhilesh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party government for the poor law and order situation in general and crime against women in particular. Over a year later, the shoe is on the other foot as crime against women has gone up by 24 percent from January 1 to March 31 compared to the corresponding period last year. According to a report, eight women are being criminally assaulted in the state every day. What Adityanath must be peeved at is that while in 2016 there were 751 cases of rape, there is a steady and scary rise in those numbers in 2017 (873) and 2018 (899).
With the entire plank of the BJP’s poll campaign about making the state safe for women crashing, the government now proposes to seek changes in the law to allow the death penalty for rape accused.