New Delhi: A woman who had accused the Bahujan Samaj Party MP from Ghosi, Atul Rai, of rape in 2019, set herself on fire along with a friend outside the Supreme Court Monday noon.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, New Delhi district, Deepak Yadav told ThePrint that the fire was doused by the staff on duty with the help of the public and both the woman and her friend were shifted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for further treatment.
Speaking to ThePrint, a senior Delhi Police officer said, “The woman is from Ballia and the man is from Ghazipur. We are trying to ascertain their relationship with each other. They have suffered severe burn injuries and aren’t in a position to give a statement yet.”
Delhi Police officials informed the Uttar Pradesh Police about the incident and the families of the two have also been contacted, according to DCP Yadav.
The woman had broadcast the self-immolation in a Facebook live video around noon that lasted around 10 minutes. In the video, she and a man can be seen pouring inflammable liquid and later setting themselves on fire. She introduced herself as a “rape victim” and alleged that the UP Police tried to prove she was “characterless” in various ways to save Rai.
“We won’t tell you the location but we have come here to fulfill what all of them have been trying to do for the last one and a half years,” the woman is heard saying in the video.
The woman also went on to name Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi, Amit Pathak; Circle Officer Amresh Singh; a police officer named Sanjay Rai and his son Vivek Rai; and former IPS officer Amitabh Thakur, alleging they played a role in trying to help Rai.
Additional Director General of Police, law & order, Prashant Kumar told ThePrint, “Strict action will be taken in the matter. We have taken cognisance of the video and immediate action will be taken … we are verifying. All culprits will be booked.”
“We had already filed a chargesheet against Atul Rai and one sub inspector and a deputy superintendent of police was suspended following the woman’s complaint,” Kumar added. The woman had filed her complaint in May 2019.
As it happens, a non-bailable warrant had been issued against the woman earlier this month by a Varanasi court on a case registered in November 2020 by Rai’s brother Pawan Kumar.
“Rai’s brother had filed a complaint that the woman had forged her marksheet submitted in court. An FIR was registered against her,” a senior UP Police officer said.
An FIR under Indian Penal Code sections 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will), 468 (purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) was lodged in the case.
Pawan Kumar, in his complaint, noted a discrepancy in the date of birth stated by the woman in two different documents. In her marksheet submitted while filing a 2015 complaint, the date of birth was listed as 10 March 1997 while the one submitted in Rai’s case said 10 June 1997, alleged Kumar.
The 2015 complaint Kumar referenced was a molestation charge filed by the woman against a student leader, Amritesh Singh alias Sabal.
Kumar had also accused the woman of running a ‘honey trapping’ racket.
The 2019 case
On 1 May 2019, the woman had filed a rape case against Rai for allegedly sexually assaulting her. The complaint came a week after Rai had filed his nomination papers for the Lok Sabha election. The MP went on the run but later surrendered in court on 22 June, after he won the election. A Varanasi court however refused to grant him protection from arrests, citing that there are 16 other cases already lodged against him.
In her complaint, the woman had accused Rai of taking her to his home in Chitaipur, Varanasi, on the pretext of meeting his wife and then ‘sexually assaulted’ her and threatened her that a video of the assault will be released. Rai denied the allegations, and a chargesheet was filed against him in June 2019.
After his arrest, in September 2019, the woman accused Rai and his aides of threatening her from prison. She alleged that they warned of meeting the same fate as the Unnao rape survivor.
The woman filed a plea in the Supreme Court this March seeking a transfer of the case from Prayagraj to Delhi, citing threats to her life. She also registered a defamation complaint against Rai again in December 2020 for allegedly maligning her image on social media.
The UP Police had at the time said the woman alleged that members of the Mukhtar Ansari gang and Atul Rai had been harassing her and her family since the rape case was lodged.
In the Facebook Live video from Monday, the woman’s friend could be heard saying: “We decided this over the last couple of weeks … you serve us as many non-bailable warrants as you please. Atul Rai is everything for you people and society, release him.”
“This is a nexus and we have been trapped,” he added.
(Edited by Manasa Mohan)