Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Police Saturday gave a clean chit to BJP MLA Ravindra Nath Tripathi and four of his sons who were booked in a case of gang-rape earlier this week.
The Bhadohi MLA’s nephew Sandeep Tiwari, who was the main accused in the case, has been arrested. One of the MLA sons, Nitesh, was charged under section 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
An FIR was lodged Wednesday against Sandeep, the MLA and his five sons — Sachin, Chandrabhushan, Deepak, Prakash and Nitesh — for allegedly raping a 35-year-old woman.
Ram Badan Singh, superintendent of police (SP), Bhadohi, told media persons, “We have only found evidence against main accused Sandeep. There were no proof against the MLA and other family members.”
Reacting to the police’s statement, the woman told ThePrint, “The police is protecting the BJP MLA because he is a member of the ruling party. This is not justice. All accused should be in jail. Why have they only arrested Sandeep? All seven men were involved in the harassment. I will fight against this injustice in court.”
Her lawyer, Ajit Srivastava, also told ThePrint that they will move court against the police’s action. “How they can give clean chit to five out of seven accused mentioned in the FIR,” he said.
Bhadohi Kotwali police inspector Shreekant Rai, however, said the woman was not willing to undergo a medical examination. “She said the matter is of 2017…what was the need of a test now.”
‘I was threatened with murder’
The woman, who hails from Mumbai, had filed a complaint at the Bhadohi Kotwali police station on 10 February alleging that she was raped by Sandeep for several years on the promise of marriage and also by BJP MLA Ravindra Nath and his five sons in 2017.
Talking to ThePrint, the woman said that she first met Sandeep on board a train to Mumbai in 2014. “Sandeep and I entered into a relationship. He established sexual relations after the promise of marriage. I also had to undergo an abortion.”
According to the woman, before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, Sandeep had asked her to come to Bhadohi where she was confined to a hotel for over a month and raped by the accused men.
“In May 2017, when I was staying at the Bhadohi hotel, MLA Ravindra Nath came to my room one night and raped me. I cried the whole night. When I told Sandeep the next day about what happened he asked me to keep quiet. I was repeatedly raped by the MLA and his sons for a month in the hotel,” she said.
She also said Sandeep had threatened her with murder if she refused to comply.
The woman, whose husband died in 2007, currently lives with her in-laws in Varanasi.
Bhadohi SP Ram Badan Singh told ThePrint, “After her complaint, a case under sections 376 D (gang-rape), 313 (causing miscarriage without woman’s consent), 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) of the IPC was registered at the Bhadohi Kotwali police station against the MLA and the other accused.”
‘A political conspiracy’
In a social media post on 10 February, Ravindra Nath had said that he was “ready to face any investigation in the case”.
“If the allegations are found to be true…then I am also ready to get hanged alongside my entire family. Women’s safety is my first obligation. All women are like my mother and sisters,” the post read.
Addressing media persons Thursday, Ravindra Nath had also said that the complaint was filed at the behest of an opposition leader. “I had complained to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath about his illegal mining operations and other acts of corruption. Since then he had been targeting me.”
Ravindra Nath, who was in the Bahujan Samaj Party earlier, had joined the BJP just before the 2017 state assembly elections. The MLA’s family also owns a business complex in Bhadohi called the ‘Divya Market’.
While ThePrint could not contact Ravindra Nath over the phone, his son Deepak — who was also an accused in the case — said his family was ready for “any investigation”. He also said the main accused Sandeep was “not a nephew of the MLA, but only a distant relative”.
This copy has been updated to include the woman’s reaction to the police’s latest statement and Bhadohi Kotwali inspector Shreekant Rai’s comment.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.
You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.
We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And have just turned three.
At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is.
This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it.
If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous and questioning journalism. Please click on the link below. Your support will define ThePrint’s future.