The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Uttar Pradesh is caught in a web of its own making. Taking in turncoats with criminal antecedents and providing protection to its party leaders on criminal cases have cast a shadow on its political image, and rightly so.
Notwithstanding, the ‘encounter-spree’ to contain crime in the state, its leaders have blatantly taken law into their own hands. On top of that, the Yogi government is ‘shamelessly’ giving them protection. The recent case in point is the alleged rape and murder case in Unnao.
An 18-year-old girl from Makhi village in Unnao district, seeking a job, was allegedly held captive by BJP Member of Legislative Assembly from Bangarmau in Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, and his brother. She alleged that she had been raped for eight days by them. The survivor, somehow, managed to slip out of captivity and narrated the incident to her father, Surendra Singh.
Their ordeal began once the rape survivor’s father attempted to lodge a first information report against the BJP MLA and his brother Atul Singh alias Jaideep Singh. They were thrown out of the Makhi Police Station in Unnao. They approached the court and managed to get a case registered against the accused despite threats to their lives.
Despite the court case, the Unnao Police took no action against the accused. The rape survivor and her family met the chief minister last year with their complaint but no action followed. The family was under continuous pressure to withdraw the court case or face consequences.
On April 3, Atul Singh barged into Surendra Singh’s house with four others. They dragged him out on gunpoint and tied Surendra to a tree. They punched him, thrashed him with sticks, belts and iron rods in front of his family and villagers till he fell unconscious. Surendra’s wife Asha lodged a complaint with Makhi Police station but instead of arresting the accused, her injured husband was put behind bars.
The family feared that he might be killed in jail. After their requests for his release and treatment were ignored by senior Unnao police officials, the family rushed to state capital Lucknow again on April 8, either to get justice from the CM or commit suicide.
Once they came to know that Yogi was out of Lucknow, the rape survivor attempted to commit suicide along with her family outside the CM’s house at Kalidas Marg. This act caught the media attention. The ordeal that she had dealt with for the past one year was out on TV channels within hours.
Since the incident occurred at the CM’s house and the media followed it up, senior police officials scurried for cover, assuring fresh probe and action to keep the family out from media glare. The administration had perhaps thought that they’d manage the incident the way they managed another suicide attempt by a rape survivor from Barabanki outside the CM’s house a week ago.
The Barabanki Police had given a clean chit to those accused in the case who are said to be close to the governing coalition. Yogi did not take cognisance of both incidents that occurred outside his official residence.
But all hell broke out on the morning of April 9 when the Unnao rape survivor’s father succumbed to internal injuries in police custody at Unnao District Hospital. The chief minister quickly ordered a magisterial inquiry and assured action against the guilty. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was also formed to probe rape and murder charges. An FIR was also finally lodged but only after dropping the name of BJP MLA’s brother. Four accomplices of the BJP MLA were arrested the same day. But no action followed against the accused MLA and his brother. When opposition parties and the media mounted pressure, the BJP MLA’s brother Atul Singh was arrested on April 10.
Up until now, the police had no evidence to initiate action against the MLA’s brother but suddenly it found clinching evidence against Atul Singh. This speaks volumes about how leaders close to the governing party are protected under the Yogi regime, despite their involvement in criminal activities.
The autopsy report suggested that the rape survivor’s father died of shock and septicemia owing to severe internal haemorrhage and damage to the intestine. It bore 16 external injury marks, clearly suggesting third-degree torture and brutal beating by MLA’s brother and four others.
The entire village had witnessed brutalities perpetuated by the BJP MLA and his men on the deceased on April 3. Why, then, was no FIR registered against them despite a hand-written complaint submitted by the deceased’s wife, Asha? When it was finally lodged after media pressure, why was Atul Singh’s name dropped?
The more one digs, the more skeletons come out of Yogi’s administration. Was the brother arrested to save the accused BJP MLA? The deceased family, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and the Samajwadi Party Chief Akhilesh Yadav have also sought an explanation from the chief minister on this count.
“They are shielding the BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Segar. He raped my daughter and killed my husband. We demand CBI inquiry and his immediate arrest or else we will hold a fast unto death at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to seek justice from the Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” warned Asha, wife of the deceased.
Asha’s demand is justified. How can one expect Yogi to initiate action against his own MLA when he himself has withdrawn cases against him, Union Minister of State for Finance Shiv Pratap Shukla and scores of other leaders within one year of his regime?
It all started with Saharanpur riot last year, when BJP Member of Parliament Raghav Lakhanpal barged into the then senior superintendent of police Luv Kumar’s bungalow and kept the senior officer’s family holed up for two hours. Instead of any action against the erring party MP, the SSP was shunted out.
Bhim Sena Chief Chandrasekar Ravana is still languishing in jail but no action was taken against Thakurs involved in torching Dalit houses and those killing Dalits during Saharanpur riots.
In February, the chief minister ordered legal proceedings to withdraw cases against former Union Minister and BJP MP Sanjeev Balyan and other BJP MLAs in connection with Muzaffarnagar riots in which 62 people were killed.
On the chief minister’s direction, the state law department shot off a letter to the District Magistrate of Shahjahanpur to withdraw a rape case against former Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand in March. Recently, it sent a letter to District Magistrate of Agra, seeking his opinion on withdrawing as many as 16 cases pending against Dr Ram Shankar Katheria, the Chairman of SC/ST Commission.
When a person from Yogi’s hometown Gorakhpur met him recently during his ‘Janata Darbar’ with a complaint against an independent MLA Amanmani Tripathi, who is facing a Central Bureau of Investigation probe in his wife’s murder, the chief minister asked his security men to throw him out. A video containing his grievance went viral on social media but Yogi refused to help the man — notably, the MLA had supported the BJP in Rajya Sabha polls.
In another incident, the chief minister refused to initiate action in a complaint against BJP MP Kamlesh Paswan in a land grabbing case. Later, a case was registered against Paswan following court intervention.
There is also another angle to the Unnao rape case. Those who so far dared Yogi with political revolt or criminal acts are turncoats given place and ticket in the BJP by party leadership.
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a four-time MLA from Unnao was first elected on the BSP ticket in 2002. When denied ticket, he joined the Samajwadi Party to win again in 2007 and 2012. Fearing that he may lose his ticket, he switched over to the BJP to win from Bangarmau in 2017.
Both Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brother Atul Singh have a long criminal past. He and his brother were involved in firing at then ADM Ram Lal Verma when police officers tried to stop illegal mining by his men in the area in 2004.
Known as tender and mining mafia, Sengar and his brother never let anyone get government contract in his Assembly constituency. His companies are involved in illegal mining, real estate, road construction and supply of building materials.
“That’s the difference between him and Mayawati. She had got a BSP MP Uma Kant Yadav arrested from her residence when she was the chief minister, while Yogi Adityanath is shielding his own party leaders. How will he make Uttar Pradesh crime-free?” quipped Afsar Husain, a senior journalist.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh police have finally arrested Atul Singh and booked him under Section 302 (murder). But it’ll take more than this very belated step for people’s faith to be restored in the Yogi government.