The Unnao gangrape case is classic example of the politician-police-criminal nexus, and it is no surprise that it happened in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh, which has seen a 26 per cent rise in rape cases and a 33 per cent increase in crime against women; it also stands third in the list for child rape, after Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Yogi Government, despite its tall claims of action on molesters after constituting anti-Romeo squads, has failed to protect girls and women. One can see the brazen thwarting of law and order in UP, as the Unnao gang rape victim battles for life on a ventilator. The girl went missing on 4th June 2017. A missing report was filed but clearly the police was conniving in the case, and so there were no efforts to trace the girl. Maybe, the police was aware of her whereabouts, since the rapist MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who belongs to the same village, notorious for his criminal antecedents, has made the police department an appendage of his political-criminal nexus.
Let us take a brief look at the profile of Sengar, who, along with his brothers and aides has succeeded in devastating the victim and her family. Sengar was a Congress-supported Pradhan of his village in 1997-98. Being a Rajput by caste, he won the support of all Rajputs, making him confident of trying his luck in state-level politics. He managed to get an MLA ticket from the BSP in 2002 and easily won the Bangarmau seat. In 2007, he decided to switch parties because of the dwindling fortunes of BSP. The rank opportunist again won on an SP ticket. Quick to gauge the rise of BJP in the State, Sengar joined the BJP and again garnered a comfortable victory in the last elections.
News has it that Sengar’s family is close to the notorious criminal Raja Bhaiya of Kunda, Pratapgarh. Sengar’s brothers are also notorious for their criminal background and money and muscle power, and a well-organised network of criminals has given the Sengar family enough clout to remain immune to FIRs and police or Party action. No wonder that the police waited 17 days to trace the girl to the house of a man in Auraiya, who had purchased her for Rs 60,000, a woman Shashi Singh and her son and daughter acting as pimps. This could only be possible due to recovery of the girl’s phone in her house and tracing of Shashi Singh’s phone calls.
The Bangarmau constituency is Brahmin-dominated and the Rajputs may have chosen Sengar as their Robin Hood, but it is strange that no powerful movement against him by any political organisation or social force has been witnessed in Unnao. An FIR was lodged on 22 June, but again, the name of Kuldeep Singh Sengar was deliberately left out. It will now be up to the CBI to investigate other angles to the case and also whether Sengar, his brother and other associates are also part of a sex racket, since 2 other girls have also been missing from the area, according to the victim’s uncle. Can one justify a delay of almost a year to arrest Kuldeep Singh Sengar, except on the basis of pressure from the Yogi Government in UP? But much before the arrest, the survivor’s father was brutally thrashed by the MLA’s brother Atul Sengar on whose behest a case was lodged against him. He was again beaten up in custody and succumbed to his injuries on 9th April, a day after a bid to self-immolate herself was made by the girl before Yogi’s residence.
Yet, nothing moved. Rather, murder threats were made to the family if it did not withdraw the case. It was only after a letter was written by Senior Advocate Gopal Swarup Chaturvedi to conduct a Court-monitored investigation that Allahabad High Court took cognizance of the case and directions were given on 12th April to CBI to arrest Sengar.
But in July this year, the victim’s uncle was arrested in a 19-year old attempt to murder case filed by Atul. This timeline of events shows how much influence Sengar holds, not only in Unnao, but even in the state! Even after all this, the victim got no protection as the police refused to accompany her in the car. So, in a bizarre case of hit-and-run, a truck with a blackened number plate makes head-on collision with the car in which the girl, her two aunts and advocate were travelling; the two aunts are killed in the “accident” and the victim and her advocate can hardly be called “alive and stable” according to DCW Chief Swati Maliwal, who visited them.
The victim’s letter addressed to the Chief Justice never reached him in time and had been lying in the Court, and now an investigation of this lapse is underway. The BJP expels Sengar on 1st August, 2 years and 2 months after the incident. The 5 cases related to the victim have now been transferred to Delhi and a paltry “exemplary compensation” of 25 lakhs been granted for an entire family devastated and murdered. Is this action commensurate with the degree of the crime? Is this not a murder of law? One would certainly agree with Congress spokesperson Shergill’s statement that “the horror that the family has gone through can never be compensated and that law and order willingly kneeled before the perpetrators of the crime.”
The writer is the founder leader of All-India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA), functioned as its General Secretary for 13 years.
- Kumudini Patil