Unnao residents hold audacious rally supporting BJP MLA accused of rape

Written by Sabrangindia | Published on: April 25, 2018
On Monday April 23, the residents of Unnao, Uttar Pradesh held a rally in brazen support of BJP MLA Kuldeep Sing Sengar, the key accused in the rape of a minor girl. Several hundred people from the nearby areas such as Bangarmau, Bighapur, and Safipur participated in the rally. The demonstrators, which included both men and women, held placards with the words "Humare vidhayak nirdosh hai" (our legislator is innocent).

Unnao Rape
Image: News18
 
The rally was led by the Nagar Panchayat President Anuj Kumar Dixit, who said, "It is a political conspiracy to defame our MLA. He is innocent and being framed in false charges. We demand a neutral and independent enquiry into the matter."
 
This rally was dishearteningly similar to an incident in Kathua, where an organisation called the Hindu Ekta Manch held a rally, audaciously waving the Indian flag in support of the accused rapists in the case where an eight-year-old nomadic Muslim girl was gang-raped and murdered. Even more egregious was the presence of two local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers, Choudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga, at the rally. The two ministers have since resigned
 
Widespread public outrage, both from within and outside the country, seems not to have dampened the efforts of those supporting the people accused of these heinous crimes. When some sections of the public continue to align with and support such individuals, is it any wonder that sexual violence against women remains pervasive, and that a culture of impunity still persists?
 
In the Unnao case, the rape took place in June 2017. The survivor had subsequently filed an FIR against Sengar, but the police allegedly took no action. The case only drew attention after she attempted suicide outside UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence on April 8. When the Allahabad High Court questioned the government, its senior-most law officer had maintained that there was not enough evidence to arrest Sengar. The CBI detained him for questioning.
 
In fact, Sengar was only arrested in April 2018 after the Allahabad High Court questioned the Uttar Pradesh government’s tackling of the case, calling it "appalling," and eventually directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to arrest, not just detain him. He was remanded to CBI custody following arrest, and his custody was extended by a week on April 20. Prior to his arrest, Sengar had "strutted around, denying the accusation, disparaging the girl and her family and hitting out at the media". 
 
On April 5, the survivor’s father was taken into custody following an alleged scuffle which the survivor insists was actually a beating at the behest of Sengar’s brother. The survivor’s father was arrested with injuries and died in judicial custody just a day after his daughter’s suicide attempt. The post-mortem revealed brutal wounds, and found that he died due to shock and septicaemia. However, his death was allegedly made to look like it took place during a rioting incident while in custody. The victim had alleged that her father was "killed at the behest of the BJP MLA" who investigators now seem to have found was present in Unnao on April 3, the day the survivor’s father was attacked. Sengar’s brother was among those arrested for allegedly attacking the survivor’s father. An SIT probe was ordered into both, the rape case as well as the case of custodial torture and death.