Ground Report: ‘No Hope From This Govt Of Murderers, Rapist’: Women’s Rights Groups Protest Against BJP And Kuldeep Sengar In Lucknow
“The Unnao rape survivor is paying the price for asking for justice against a powerful MLA of the ruling party.”
Scores of people gathered by the Mahatma Gandhi statue at Hazratganj in Lucknow on Tuesday evening, demanding justice for the Unnao rape survivor, who was critically injured in a road accident in Rai Bareli, Uttar Pradesh.
A number of prominent women’s rights activists and social workers voiced their anger over the incident. Prominent among them was Professor Roop Rekha Verma of Saajhi Duniya, a right group in the city. “Balatkari Sengar se Sarkaar ki hamdardi kyon?” — Why is the government compassionate towards a rapist like Sengar? — asked their placards.
On Sunday, July 28, an overspeeding truck rammed into her car, killing two of her aunts and leaving her and their lawyer injured. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a lawmaker in the Yogi Adityanath-led government of Bharatiya Janata Party, his brother Manoj Singh and eight others have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including murder and criminal intimidation.
In 2017, Sengar, a four-time Member of Legislative Assembly from Bangermau in the U.P. assembly, raped a teenage girl at his residence. Sengar was arrested on April 2018, after rape survivor held a protest outside the Chief Minister residence in Lucknow. Sengar’s arrest has, however, barely been compensation for the survivor and her family. Her father, who was arrested and sent to jail in connection with an Arms Act case, died in custody, allegedly from torture. A key witness in the case also died months later under mysterious circumstances. The survivor and the family, on several occasions, have complained about the harassment they continue to face at the hands of Sengar’s men.
Addressing the gathering, Professor Verma said, “Just after the incident, the way DGP described it as an accident without any investigation, raises the question over the police department. We are not fools to believe him. The way the incident happened, it appears to be a planned attack, not an accident.”
She further attacked the ruling government and said, “On the one hand, the BJP government is putting human rights activists behind the bar; and on the other hand, they are protecting the rape accused.”
She said, “The women who raise voices against harassment and sexual exploitation are harassed more. Under this government, it has become a routine now. We demand complete justice for the survivor and action against who provided support to Sengar. The DGP should be sacked. I’m not prepared to accept suspension as a punishment.”
Madhu Kar of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, at the same protest, said, “The way the ruling party is protecting the rapist and the murderers is a matter of deep shame to all of us. I have met her (the survivor) in Delhi; even hundreds of kilometres away from home, she was living in fear. The goons of Sengar have been continuously threatening victim’s family with dire of consequences,” adding, “I have no hope from this government, which is a government of murderers, rapist and billionaires. But I do have faith in our judicial system. We will leave no stone unturned for securing justice for the survivor.”
Sadaf Zafar, a Lucknow-based social activist, speaking to NewsCentral24x7, said, “When a member of ruling party announces from the stage that we should dig out the bodies of Muslim women and rape the corpses, they are encouraging the perpetrators to commit a crime like this,” adding, “We must take this battle to streets and mohallas.”
Women’s rights organisations have submitted a memorandum to the Additional District Magistrate, Santosh Kumar; addressed to the President Ram Nath Kovind, demanding justice for the rape victim. Per the document, “The Uttar Pradesh government should stop interfering should take full responsibility for the security and treatment of the victim-survivor and her lawyer.”
Uttar Pradesh has long struggled to deal with crime. Despite Yogi Adityanath’s claim that “U.P.’s law and order has become a model for the country,” there is little doubt that the problem has only gotten worse. In that context, Rajeev Yadav of Rihai Manch said, “There is complete lawlessness in the state. A series of such incidents are happening, and the BJP leadership is supporting them. She (the survivor) is paying the price for asking for justice against a powerful MLA of the ruling party. Her entire family has been wiped off the earth and she is battling for her life in hospital.”