A non accidental highway crash involving a car carrying the Unnao rape survivor, her lawyer and also the aunts, one of who was her confidante and who had accompanied her to the UP CM’s Durbar in quest of justice. Her village (it is also the village of the accused MLA) as well as the policemen posted with her for her security, all knew about the trip and the destination. The aunt concerned is dead as also is the other, the lawyer and the survivor lie injured in the ICU of King George Medical Hospital in Lucknow. The concerned SP Police gave an immediate statement that the crash-involving a truck with a deliberately blackened number plate and moving at high speed from the wrong side of the road- was just an accident. By evening, facing the anger building throughout the country, the DGP UP stated that a case of conspiracy and murder has been registered against the rape accused, three time MLA Senegar, because the uncle of the survivor had lodged such an FIR from Rai Bareilly jail. In the news room studios, BJP spokespersons explain that Sengar remains in the BJP because the survivor accused him of rape as an afterthought!
The young woman at the centre of this story, who is fighting for her life now in the hospital, has been a victim of first rape and then gangrape, has had her father killed because the family is fighting for justice, has a uncle in jail on tens of charges pushed by the MLA concerned and his henchmen, has court proceedings in her case yet to take off and a petition filed early this year by the uncle for transferring the case to the Supreme Court still doing the rounds of the Registry. Her story needs retelling so that we face what a poor family goes through when it takes on the rich and powerful. It needs retelling so that women through out the country realize they must take up her quest for justice.
The fight has cost this family the life of the survivor’s father- he was beaten by the MLA’s elder brother and his henchmen, mocked at by the subservient local police and jail doctor and died in jail- apart from the lives of the aunts murdered in this crash, life threatening injuries to the survivor’s lawyer, with the girl- yet a teenager only- fighting for life, while a sister younger than her speaks of murder threats before television cameras.
The Unnao rape case was investigated by a team from the Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan Delhi, who met the survivor, her family, the family of the MLA, the police and the survivor’s lawyer in 2018 after the MLA had been arrested on charges of rape. The report states that both the girl’s family and the accused MLA are natives of village Makhi in District Unnao of UP. The MLA is from the old feudal family which has a palatial house in this village, owns the schools here and he adjudicates all disputes between villagers despite the fact that he is actually the MLA of a neighbouring district.The survivor is from a poor related family of the same caste and her parents’ mud and brick house stands adjacent to the MLA’s residence.
The Team learnt from the family that survivor grew up in the villages of relatives and while still a minor came to live with her parents. Her father and uncle (chacha) worked as underlings of the MLA. A woman- Shashi Singh- active in the village offered to take her to the MLA’s house to ask for a job- and it was there, she has stated in her complaint, that she was raped by the MLA. This was 2017. The girl complained to her family and spoke about what happened. To side track this, within weeks the minor was kidnapped by Shashi’s son Shubham and several other boys of the village, taken out of the village and gangraped and kept confined for several days. Her mother Asha, who has been with her in her struggle like a rock, filed a missing person complaint (June 2017), whereupon the minor girl was tracedabout ten days later to another district, kept in a mahilathana for ten days and brought to register her statement under 164 CrPC before a magistrate without being allowed to meet her family. As the PMS team comments, the girl must have been routinely admonished to speak only about the incident at hand, and on the basis of her statement Shashi Singh and the guilty boys were arrested.
Here began the real struggle of the beleaguered family. The girl continued to allege rape by the MLA and took the chachi with her and went to the durbar of Yogi Adityanath, CM of UP, in her quest for justice. Not being allowed to meet him she tried to immolate herself but her attempt was foiled and she got to meet the CM. No FIR was lodged against the MLA despite this. The mother moved the courts for registration of the girl’s FIR against the MLA regarding the first rape. But it was only when the father was killed in 2018 and an outcry broke out that the FIR was lodged and the girl’s statement recorded and police protection provided. This horrible experience of gang rape and abduction was planned for the girl quite deliberately in order to cover up the earlier incident and to malign her character in the village. The PMS team records how every person was willing to term her characterless while terming the MLA as godlike.It is on the same basis that MLA Sengar bases his defence and BJP spokespersons are stating that she did not name the MLA in her first statement, covering up the cruel planning behind the horror this minor subjected to, to achieve this very important legal end.
Lodging of the FIR against the MLA at the cost of the father’s life proved to be just the beginning of further hell. The uncle (chacha) who too used to be a henchman of the MLA’s family and had dozens of cases on him. However he had early on moved to Delhi and set up some business and probably most of the cases had also finished without convictions. The survivor was assigned several police guards at the direction of the courts but probably the family was not convinced of her safety. The uncle filed a case on her behalf in the Supreme Court, requesting that the cases be moved to Delhi, where she mostly stayed after her father’s killing. Meanwhile several cases opened up against the uncle locally and he has been convicted and is now lodged in Rai Bareilley jail. It is to meet him that the survivor and her family were headed on the 28th of July 2019.
Questions are being raised about why Senegar continues to be a member of the BJP, which the BJP is avoiding answering by stating that it is the UP Govt. which has moved against him, which is a complete distortion of the truth. The Yogi Govt was compelled by the courts to register the case against him. His importance to the BJP is clear from the fact that newly elected MP of Unnao, Sakshi Maharaj, went to the jail to thank Senegar after the Lok Sabha election results were announced. It also clearly reveals how many strings the MLA is able to pull.
The UP Police is trying to hide behind the fact that her numerous security guards were not with her at the time of the car crash because ‘’she had left them behind’’. This is covering up the fact that the courts had mandated the guards, that all the guards knew about her destination and that not one filed an immediate report that she was moving without them. In the situation where the mother and younger sibling of the survivor immediately alleged after the crash that the MLA had conspired to kill the survivor, her lawyer and witnesses and that the family was constantly being threatened, the continuing hesitation to label a blatant conspiracy as such at first instance and then investigate it, is tragic, reprehensible and shows the complete complicity of the UP Police and Govt. with the accused MLA.
That the prima facie diabolical conspiracy has been executed in the course of the first session of the newly elected Parliament, has helped to turn the spotlight on it and to ensure quick registration of a FIR of murder and criminal conspiracy against the accused MLA. However the demand of a CBI Enquiry is without merit when raised by the parliamentary opposition as they know all about caged parrots and have caged them in their time. It is probably born out of lack of knowledge when raised by the girl’s mother, Asha Devi, who sees it as an alternative to the local police whom she openly labels as being hand in glove with the accused MLA. The UP Govt. has accepted the demand with alacrity, which shows it does not fear this alternative. Only a Supreme Court monitored fast track enquiry and hearing into the whole gamut of events and cases is the appropriate demand, provided people’s vigilance in turn monitors this enquiry.
This is a textbook case of what poor families face when their women dare to take on the rich and powerful- in this case a three times MLA of the Party ruling in the Centre and in the state of the survivor. It is a case to speak up for, justice must be ensured to the survivor and her family. For this sustained struggle must be built. Only that and that alone will ensure that the Courts of India respond.
PMS POW ISTRI JAGRITI MANCH