Sunday, 27 November, 2022
HomeOpinionWe have all let down the Nirbhaya of Unnao

We have all let down the Nirbhaya of Unnao

At every step, the Yogi Adityanath government tried to sabotage the case and protect its beloved bahubali MLA.

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The Unnao rape survivor is battling for her life in a Lucknow hospital. Injuries to her lungs have left her bleeding and unconscious, living on hope and a ventilator.

As we pray for her life, it is difficult to not be reminded of Nirbhaya. In the winter of 2012, an entire nation prayed for her but she couldn’t make it.

Unlike the Nirbhaya of Delhi, it wasn’t the rapists who’ve tried to kill the Nirbhaya of Unnao. That speeding truck wasn’t sent by the rapists. It symbolised the entire system: the state government, the police, the BJP, the CBI, the judiciary, and even the media and civil society. Everybody let her down.

Harassment, rape, kidnapping, gang-rape

Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the alleged rapist of the Nirbhaya of Unnao, didn’t immediately try to kill her. Instead, he wiped her tears and said he’ll get her a job. It was 2017, she was 16-years-old.

She had been sexually harassed allegedly by Sengar, the powerful politician from her village, so much so that she had dropped out of school. After she was raped, she was allegedly threatened that if she told anyone about the incident, her father would be killed. She didn’t tell anyone. She was then kidnapped, sedated and gang-raped allegedly by Sengar’s accomplices for nine days.

Also read: Unnao rape victim’s plea reaches CJI Gogoi 18 days after she sent it, delay to be probed

She said they’ll kill me. Nobody heard her cries.

Weeks before her car was hit by a speeding truck, she wanted the CBI to shift the trial to Delhi because she feared for her life. The CBI said that’s for the judiciary to decide. She knew the rampant threats from Sengar’s men are not be taken lightly. Her family even recorded one such incident of intimidation on video. They had allegedly got her father killed, her uncle jailed. She wrote to the Chief Justice of India, saying she was told the ‘judge will be bought’. It is still being translated into English for the honourable CJI’s perusal. The trial against Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his accomplices doesn’t even have a court assigned to it, leave alone a judge.

Unnao’s own Nirbhaya filed 35 complaints with the police over the last year saying she feared for her life, and yet the police couldn’t protect her or her family. Unnao SP M.P. Verma says these complaints were dismissed as they were “unfounded and lacked merit”. The “accident” has shown the complaints were not ‘unfounded’ or ‘lacking in merit’. For such complicity, the SP has not been suspended or even transferred, because of course, it isn’t the SP who is taking such decisions. It’s Yogi Adityanath.

Oh, the UP police did give her security. Except that the security detail mysteriously absented themselves the very day a truck rammed into the car in which the rape survivor was travelling. He family says the security detail provided to them used to keep Sengar informed of their movements.

The list of charges against the UP police is a very long one. At every step, even now, the UP police has actively tried to sabotage the case and protect the rapist. It did everything possible to discredit the rape survivor, questioning her claims, even filing an FIR alleging she wasn’t a minor.

Why don’t you ‘settle’ the case, UP police would tell her, ‘end the matter’. He’s a powerful BJP MLA, the police would say to the survivor’s family. The police said they would lose their jobs if she didn’t ‘compromise’, according to an FIR filed by the victim’s uncle. Sengar would call the family from jail and threaten them.

Also read: Unnao crash with CBI: Why do people prefer ‘caged parrot’ instead of the state police?

Home minister Yogi Adityanath

When she was raped in June 2017, it took her a long time to gather the courage to file a complaint. The UP police didn’t do her medical examination for days. They didn’t register an FIR for months until she attempted to set herself on fire. Initially, the police refused to name Sengar or his brother in the FIR. It is to be noted that the UP police not only reports to the Yogi government but to Yogi Adityanath himself: he holds the home portfolio.

The prosecution — meaning, the UP government — has made sure the trial against Sengar does not even start. Meanwhile, the victim’s uncle has already been convicted in a 19-year-old attempt to murder case and sentenced to 10 years in jail. How magically the case was expedited after his niece accused a powerful BJP MLA and his henchmen of gang rape!

False charges, custodial death, witness dead

One of the MLA’s brothers, Atul Singh Sengar, thrashed the victim’s father, and the police arrested the victim’s father! The CBI later said the victim’s father had been framed by the UP police in a false Arms Act case.

As if that was not enough, the father later died in police custody. A key witness in the alleged murder of the father died in August last year, as such witnesses often do under the UP police’s watch, “under suspicious circumstances”.

The UP government refused to arrest Sengar for months. Not enough proof, the Yogi government had argued. Finally, the Allahabad High Court ordered the CBI to arrest the MLA.

The BJP’s beloved bahubali

From the very first moment, the UP police stood with the alleged rapist MLA, because he was an MLA of the ruling party. A Thakur by caste, just like the UP CM. A powerful local politician in Unnao, a ‘bahubali’. Not protecting him would cost the BJP votes. And the power-hungry ruling party doesn’t want to lose a single seat even when it has more seats than it needs.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath shared the dais with Sengar’s wife in the Lok Sabha election campaign earlier this year. Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj visited him in jail to thank him for his support. Both Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj themselves have several criminal cases registered against them.

Last year, the BJP refused to suspend Kuldeep Singh Sengar from the party. Too early to take a call, it said. Innocent until proven guilty and all that. Make sure the case is weakened, and the guilty is never proven guilty, and thus his innocence is proven.

Under pressure now, the BJP says, of course, we suspended him. White lies.

Also read: Kuldeep Sengar, the Unnao rape accused even BJP can’t act against

We have all failed her

Also killed in the car accident were two aunts of the Nirbhaya of Unnao. One of the aunts was a key witness in the case. The lawyer is also battling for his life. The uncle is in jail in an old attempt to murder case, and one of the aunts who died in the accident was his wife. The family had to protest on the streets before the court granted him parole for a day to attend his wife’s funeral.

The media and civil society are also to blame. All of us moved on from the story. We didn’t sustain the pressure. We didn’t stand by the Nirbhaya of Unnao. Earlier this month, the media did report threats to her life, but it was just another case lingering on. We all let her down.

If she dies, she won’t be able to give her testimony in the court. Sengar will be a free man, contesting many elections to come, helping the BJP stay in power. The BJP will say, look we told you he was innocent because he hasn’t been proven guilty. The Prime Minister will remain silent, Yogi Adityanath will use some Lord Ram for deflection.

We have failed to keep the promises we made as a society to ourselves after Nirbhaya’s death in Delhi in 2012.

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  1. Shame on Adityanath Yogi, Modi, and the Indian Law Enforcement. India will remain a third world country with such irresponsible and incapable people in power. Indians have to decide whether they will continue to elect such bad leaders and continue to live miserable lives. I guess they don’t want change!

  2. Shame on Yogi & Modi that they have done nothing to bring the guilty to justice. They hide behind Shri Ram on every ocassion. I am sure one day Maa Durga will make the Modis, Yogis & Sengars of this world pay for their sins.

  3. The only parallel I can think of is Saudi Arabia butchering the dissident new York Times correspondent inside the embassy in spite of all the precautions in the world the poor guy had taken

    • Mr Narahari, are you insane ? You are feeling bad because he is Hindu rapist ? If your sister , wife or family member raped by same person what will you do ?

  4. Feeling let down by BJP. Girls are not safe and secured weather BJP or UPA. Government favors and protects only powerful people. Shocking that Yogi can be soooooo insensitive because he does not have a family to fear for, so with Mr.Modi.
    Hopefully Mr.Ranjan Gogoi gets justice to the victim. The family has sacrificed so.much.

  5. This is “Beti Bachao, Beti Padao” BJP style! In this country we have too many laws and too little justice. What was even worse was the manner in which Shazia Ilmi smugly defended and deflected for the BJP on TV. What a pity.😞

    My commiserations to the brave girl and her family. There is no hope for this country. 😔

  6. We as a society have failed
    When this girl was kidnapped
    On the same day
    If we could have gathered and come to streets
    Hats off to her uncle and aunt to support her through out
    They need to be given Bharat ratna and virta puraskar
    It needs lot of courage minus greed to sustain support in such case…
    Be it BJP or Congress
    Citizen needs to learn that tomorrow is their turn
    Today:s someone’s exploitation is tomorrow ours

  7. No one can imagine the level of agony and pain the victim is going through. The system protects the wrongful and tortures the victim. The police and the agencies need to be fiercely independent of the government.

  8. This let down will act as a lighthouse for the underprivileged to think a thousand times before fighting the wealthy and mighty.

  9. In my view , not only these cases relating to this rape victim , but all other cases on any member of her family including her uncle be referred to CBI for free and fair probe . The 18 year old case in which her uncle has been prosecuted and convicted after this rape case is also a fit case to be handed over to CBI.

  10. Everyone, every citizen of the nation is responsible to let the beasts rome free in the society as we deem ourselves weak and show our weaknesses to them. Shame on us.

  11. One hopes when CJI Ranjan Gogoi hears this matter on Thursday and the horrifying sequence of wrongdoing narrated in this column is placed before him, even God will not be able to save Sengar.

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