The Unnao rape survivor, who is battling for her life in a hospital after she was injured in a car accident, which was probably set up, is a symbol of horror, having been the victim of the worst kind of criminality, insensitivity and cynicism that an individual could be subjected to. She was allegedly raped by Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a powerful four-time BJP MLA of Uttar Pradesh. That itself would be a lifetime bad experience for a woman, but other tragedies were to follow. No action was taken on her complaint for over a year and she had to threaten to immolate herself in front of the residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Her father was taken into custody by the police on a trumped-up charge and he died in custody. Her uncle was convicted in a case in which the complainant was the rape-accused Sengar’s brother. Finally, the car she was travelling in was hit by a truck with a blackened number plate. Two of her aunts, one of whom is a witness in the rape case, died in the collision and her lawyer was also badly injured.
The series of incidents would be difficult to believe if they did not actually happen. But in Uttar Pradesh, where the law hardly exists and justice is often elusive, they would only be considered normal. Sengar is in jail, but he wields such influence in the government and the party that senior leaders, including an MP, visit him in jail and thank him for their election victories. After reports of the car crash, the BJP had claimed that he is under suspension since April 2018, but there is no record of the party having suspended him. Worse, even after two years, the trial in the rape case has not started. It was only when the media, following the ‘accident’, brought the whole Unnao case under the spotlight and shamed the BJP that the party finally chose, on Thursday, to expel Sengar from the party.
The woman had as late as last month expressed fears over the family’s safety and security. She wrote to the Chief Justice of India, the UP chief minister and police about her concerns. The entire political and government system in UP, presided over by Yogi Adityanath, stands indicted as the victim of a heinous crime is hounded, and might be eliminated. It is not just a matter of law and order, an even greater idea of justice and humanity is involved in the case. It is ironic that a minor rape victim is pushed to desperation and death when the latest amendment to the POCSO Act prescribes death sentence for the rapist. The Supreme Court has now taken up the matter and has transferred all related cases outside UP. Hopefully, the law will prevail and justice will be done.
Had it been for only one seat, Sengar wouldn’t have been too important for the BJP. From 2002 to 2012, the BJP hadn’t won a single assembly seat in Unnao. However, in 2017 when Sengar contested on a BJP ticket, the party won all the six seats.
Because of his powerful presence in the region, the BJP seemed to have been wary of losing its newly-found stronghold in Unnao. This could be one of the reasons why Sakshi Maharaj, who won easily from Unnao in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, had visited him last month in Sitapur jail, even though it had later created a controversy.