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The Alleged Rape Victim, A Student, Set Herself Ablaze As There Was ‘No Hope For Justice’

The 24-yr-old had accused UP politician Atul Rai of rape. Despite threats, she continued her fight. Why is our nation failing its women again and again?

The 24-yr-old had accused UP politician Atul Rai of rape. Despite threats, she continued her fight. Why is our nation failing its women again and again?

Trigger warning: This post contains details of domestic abuse and rape which may be triggering to survivors or certain audiences.

The 24- year-old student from Uttar Pradesh had lodged a rape case against BSP MP Atul Rai a few years ago. She and her family met with dangerous threats from the politician’s family and party. She was told she would meet the same fate as the Unnao victim.

After a long fight, the young student lost hope for justice. She set herself ablaze with a friend in front of the Supreme Court and succumbed to organ failure on 24th August. Meanwhile, the accused politician won the local elections, and his family is running his constituency on his behalf.

How the case unfolded

The alleged victim and her friend set themselves ablaze in front of the Supreme Court of India on August 16  after doing a Facebook live in which they alleged that justice was denied to them by the system. The two said that they expected no justice anymore.

They were both rushed to the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. She had suffered 85% burns while her friend suffered  65% burns in the immolation bid. They had severe burn injuries and they succumbed to organ failure.

She had lodged a Rape Case against BSP MP Atul Rai and alleged that senior police officers and a judge from Uttar Pradesh were part of a nexus that helped him.

She alleged that Rai had raped and filmed the assault

In May 2019, the student had filed a case against Atul Rai accusing him of raping and sexually assaulting her at his residence in Varanasi. She alleged that Rai had filmed the assault and threated to share the clip on social media.

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In June 2019 after being on a run, Atul Rai surrendered before a court and has been in judicial custody since then.

While he was away, his family and party members campaigned for him and alleged that the rape case was a conspiracy. He won the Ghosi seat by a margin of 1.22 lakh votes defeating the rival candidate. His constituency is currently taken care of by his wife and brother.

In a video uploaded on his Facebook page on May 27 while he was still absconding, he thanked people for voting in favour of him and declared that he has been acquitted in the people’s court.

His bail application was rejected on multiple occasions until the Supreme Court allowed him a parole of two days to take an oath as a Lok Sabha Member.

Threats that she will meet the same fate as the Unnao victim

Fresh allegations in 2019 were raised claiming that she was threatened by him from the jail and was being pushed to commit suicide. She had released a video stating that the accused threated her and her family and told her she will meet the same fate as the Unnao victim. His aids had been following the family, intimidating and harassing them to withdraw the case.

In March, the young woman had filed a plea in the Supreme court requesting the case to be transferred from Allahabad to Delhi to ensure a fair trial.

Later in August, a local court in Varanasi issued a non bailable warrant against her in a forgery case based on a complaint filed by Atul Rai’s brother. In his complaint he stated that she submitted a fake high school certificate as an age proof while filing the FIR.

Her father was quoted as saying, “My daughter never absconded… I don’t know why they issued a non-bailable warrant against her. She was upset and disappointed. My daughter was harassed and tortured.”

How can someone win an election despite being accused of rape?

The common citizen struggles and works hard to educate their children so that they end up with good jobs. A minimum of graduation is what most people strive for. To land a job in a good company they look at your percentage and grades. Sometimes graduation is not enough, there are many who go ahead and do MBAs, engineering and medicine. Almost every job requires you to be qualified enough to handle the position.

As you move ahead the corporate ladder and join a new firm, you are asked about your previous job experience in addition to your qualifications. It is almost impossible to be in a top position in the company or in the management without have years of experience, basic education and a good track record.

Our law states –In order to be chosen as a member of Parliament, a person must be a citizen of India and not less than 30 years of age in the case of Rajya Sabha and not less than 25 years of age in the case of Lok Sabha.

How is it then that for ruling our country the basic requirement is so minimal? These are the people who make the laws, who come up with policies and reforms and enforce new guidelines. Should we not have a minimal educational requirement for them? What about experience?

Are we okay with this political culture?

As of now anyone can just get up one fine day and decide to be a member of Parliament. It is unbelievable how low our standards are.

Have a criminal record ? No problem, you can still contest the election.

Raped someone? That is fine too. You can still win and become a MP.

In jail? Absolutely okay…Your family can manage your constituency from outside while you hold the title.

We have seen politicians in our country get away with everything. Rape cases, murder cases all are brushed under the carpet. Expecting parties to go against their own leaders is unheard of, in fact even the opposition parties don’t speak up as they fear one of their own cases would come out. It is amazing how political criminals are protected to the hilt!

If the same rape was done by a common man the treatment would be different. Why is it so difficult to treat a rapist as a rapist irrespective of the religion, political standing or state?

What baffles me is someone can actually win an election without campaigning on the field and while having an allegation of a rape case on them. This is something serious that shouldn’t be taken lightly by us.

Are we okay with this political culture? Is it fair that the common citizen studies hard, works harder, struggles to get a job, pays taxes and is ruled by politicians who have criminal cases against them?

The least we can do is speak about it

A young woman lost her life while fighting the system.  Will we let her death go in vain? Would this incident be forgotten like the others and will this case be closed? She is not here anymore to fight the case or stand up for what is right. Her family has lost their daughter but so has our country.

How many more women do we need to lose before any real change happens?

RIP to this courageous young woman. You will be remembered for your bravery.

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