Unnao: The Uttar Pradesh district of Unnao is once again in the headlines, this time for another case of rape. Two years after it first emerged that Kuldeep Sengar, the expelled BJP MLA from the district, had allegedly raped a 17-year-old and murdered her father, Unnao has witnessed a horrific crime related to sexual assault.
On Thursday, a 23-year-old rape survivor was allegedly set ablaze by two men she had accused of raping her, at Hindu Nagar village in Unnao, while she was on her way to a relative’s house in Rae Bareli.
Village residents told ThePrint that even after being set on fire, the survivor walked for about a kilometre, and even sought help from someone she spotted on the road. They added that she herself dialed 112 and informed the police about the incident, following which the police reached the crime spot and took her to hospital.
She has now been airlifted to New Delhi’s Safdarjung Hospital. She was initially being treated at the civil hospital in Lucknow.
Under fire for the incident, the Uttar Pradesh government has ordered a detailed probe, with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directing the state police to submit a comprehensive report on the incident by Friday evening.
The Yogi government has also sent commissioner and IG-rank officers to the crime scene and has promised to help the survivor in all possible ways.
The police have arrested the two prime accused, Shivam Trivedi and his cousin Shubham Trivedi, besides three of their family members — Harishankar Trivedi, Umesh Bajpai and Shivam’s father Ram Kishore Trivedi.
Despite suffering intense burns, the police told ThePrint, the survivor named the accused who she said set her ablaze. Unnao SP Vikram Veer said she named the two cousins and three other family members, and all of them have been arrested.
The case of rape
The FIR in the alleged rape case had been filed on 4 March. In her statement to police, the survivor alleged that Shivam Trivedi, son of Hindu Nagar Gram Pradhan Savitri Devi, had raped her on the pretext of marriage.
The survivor alleged that Shivam took her to several cities over a month and spent time together, and that when she asked him to marry her, he signed a marriage contract on a stamp paper of Rs 50, which was also counter-signed by a notary. She added in her complaint that Shivam later back-tracked and declined to marry her in a formal ceremony, and even threatened to kill her.
She further alleged that Shivam’s cousin, Shubham, also joined him in raping her in March.
The two were arrested in the case but got bail on 30 November.
Families say they knew each other
Families of the accused and the survivor told ThePrint that Shivam and the woman knew each other from childhood.
The survivor’s family said the two had been in a relationship that Shivam ended citing caste after sexually abusing her on the “faulty pretext of marriage”. While Shivam is a Brahmin, the survivor belongs to Lohar (ironsmith) community.
Her brother told ThePrint that the pradhan’s family had been threatening them for the past few days to withdraw the rape case before they set her on fire.
The family of the accused, however, denied the claims, alleging that they wanted to marry each other but fell out last year. They alleged that the survivor filed the rape case to spite the accused. They also claimed that Shivam and Shubham were at home when the 23-year-old was set ablaze Thursday.