Anupama writes a letter to her 18-year old daughter. Read what she has to say.
In April 2018, an 18 year old girl accused MLA Kuldeep Sengar of rape. Since then, her family has suffered a horrific series of mishaps, that have been alleged to be a conspiracy to destroy them.
The Unnao case came to light when an 18-year-old girl attempted to set herself on fire in April 2018, outside the residence of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow. She said that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Sengar had raped her in June 2017, when she was still a minor. She said that he had also threatened her when she filed an FIR against him.
In response to the complaint, Kuldeep Sengar stated that he was being targeted and that the survivor was trying to defame him, and said that this was a planned incident.
However, as the survivor reported, the police did not do anything to pursue the case or to act on the FIR she had filed. Instead, they had arrested her father, who was reported to have passed away in police custody shortly after that.
It was reported that her father was beaten up by Atul Singh Sengar, the brother of Kuldeep Sengar, and other aides. After her father’s death, Atul Singh Sengar and a few of his associates were arrested and a high-level inquiry was ordered.
Following this, the National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the government of Uttar Pradesh, as well as the police, instructing them to submit a detailed report on the case, and required that the survivor’s family should no longer be subject to harassment.
After this, the UP government ordered the police to submit the case to the CBI to take over, following which Kuldeep Sengar was arrested in April 2018.
Four months thereafter, a key witness in the case, named Yunus Khan, died in his village. He was buried immediately, with the local police stating that he had a liver condition that caused his death.
On July 28, 2019, a truck hit the car in which the survivor, her lawyer, and two aunts were travelling. They were en route to Rae Bareli, to meet her uncle who was in jail.
In this accident, both the survivor’s aunts were killed, while the survivor herself and her lawyer are nursing grievous injuries in hospital. The survivor is critical, having had multiple fractures and damage in her lungs. News reports suggest that she is on a ventilator.
The survivor had been assigned two women constables and one gunner for her protection round the clock. However, at the time of the accident, none of these officers were present. In the investigation that followed, the police were able to trace the blackened registration plate of the truck, and the registration number they managed to retrieve from it suggests that the vehicle was from Fatehpur. The police have impounded the vehicle and have arrested the driver, as well. Currently, an FIR has been lodged against Kuldeep Sengar and his other brother, Manoj Singh Sengar, as well as eight others, for murder, criminal intimidation, and a range of other sections under the penal code.
On July 12, 2019, the survivor had written a letter to the Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, asking for action to be taken against those who were constantly threatening her. The media reports that the survivor’s relatives mentioned that the survivor and her family were constantly being threatened by Kuldeep Sengar’s aides. Her letter itself mentions: “People came to my house and threatened to take back the (rape) case, otherwise the whole family will be put in jail in fake cases (sic).”
At this point, details of the case remain constructed by what is relayed by the media and what is, perhaps pieced together by those who are able to access sources. Until such time that we have access to more information, contemplation can only take us so far.
This story will remain a developing piece, with more (verified, authentic) information being added as and when it becomes available. At this point, if you’re with me, I suppose you will agree if I say that we find ourselves grappling with difficult questions around this. Is justice for a survivor possible at all? Will there ever be a safe space for a survivor to speak up and speak out? Can our systems ever rise to the occasion and stop failing survivor after survivor?
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