Kuldeep Singh (Sengar) isn't being arrested. I don't know if his brother is arrested. I demand that they be hanged till death. They've made my life miserable. I want justice. They killed my father: Woman who has leveled rape allegations against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar #Unnao pic.twitter.com/fHJBcjrj52— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 10, 2018
In yet another horrific display of power, a state lawmaker in India allegedly raped an 18-year-old woman in June last year. What’s worse, the victim’s father died in police custody after he was arrested on April 5 under the Arms Act.
The 50-year-old man, identified as Pappu Singh, died of injuries.
According to the family, the man died after receiving reactionary beatings that were purportedly ordered by the lawmaker and other members of his party.
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a member of the legislative assembly in the state of Uttar Pradesh for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is accused of raping the man’s teen daughter in the city of Unnao.
The lawmaker denied all the allegations, claiming it was a conspiracy against him. “They belong to a low status family. This is a conspiracy by my opponents,” Sengar told reporters.
This ghastly rape was largely ignored by the media until last weekend and made headlines only after the rape victim attempted to burn herself near the residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Lucknow, protesting against politicians and law enforcement officials who failed to get them justice.
Lucknow: A woman & her family allegedly attempted suicide outside CM Residence. Her family alleges the woman was raped by a BJP MLA & his accomplices & no action is being taken. pic.twitter.com/Srl5yQqhXP— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 8, 2018
The family tried, reportedly “for months,” to get police to investigate the rape allegations against Sengar. They said Singh was attacked by the lawmaker and a group of men, including Sengar’s brother, last Tuesday after they “barged” into the family’s home.
The victim claimed her family received threats in the past and accused Sengar for killing her father. He was “killed at the behest of the BJP MLA” inside the jail, she alleged. “We were getting threats and they killed my father,” she told reporters.
According to the victim, her father was beaten by the police officers but he “did nothing.”
“[They] took him to the police station and put him in jail,” the teen said. “They did not take him to hospital — maybe if they had, he could have been saved.”
Widespread protests took place in India after the police were accused of covering up the lawmaker’s heinous crime and failed to protect the victim and her family.
According to a postmortem report, Singh’s body had multiple wounds and injuries. The report said he died of “shock and septicemia.”
About 40,000 rape cases were registered in India in 2016. According to rights activists, thousands of rapes go unreported because of the stigma of a woman's honor.
But when a woman actually speaks out, not much is done if the crime is committed by a powerful man like Sengar.
“The police facilitated the beating to death of the father of the girl,” Vrindra Grover, an Indian supreme court lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases, told Al Jazeera. “If the police is (sic) going to not act according to the law but at the behest of the accused, then there can be no hope for justice. Today law and justice are a mirage that we are offering the women of this country.”
“The state is supposed to protect the people. This lawmaker is shamelessly flaunting his power by saying that he has the blessings of the entire state government,” he added.
Months after the rape, on Friday, Sengar was taken in to custody by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from his Lucknow residence, after the Uttar Pradesh government referred the matter to them.
The CBI officials confirmed the lawmaker has not been arrested so far. However, according to CBI sources, three separate cases equivalent to three counts of rape, assault on the Unnao girl's father and counter assault on the MLA's aides, were registered against the lawmaker.
The victim is still scared and now fears the lawmaker will get her uncle killed.
Still so many questions are being raised on me, even after my father's murder. How will I get justice? CBI probe is fine but first MLA(#KuldeepSinghSengar) should be arrested as he will influence probe, I now fear for my uncle's(father's brother) life: #UnnaoCase victim pic.twitter.com/hPDqxAdWCA— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 12, 2018
The head of the opposing Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, led a candlelight vigil in New Delhi asking for justice against victims of sexual assault.
Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 12, 2018
Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice.
Indian people are rightfully outraged that the lawmaker is still not behind bars.
They are allowing him to pressurise the victim and her family.......— sid (@sidd56) April 12, 2018
I am amazed at righteousness of people asking who made #KuldeepSinghSengar MLA. Dear suddenly woken masses, you did. A morally corrupt MLA isn’t an alien from the space, he is not the disease. He is the symptom of the disease that we are- as citizens.— saket suryesh (@saket71) April 12, 2018
What a country! What a time to be alive! A gangrape accused, a BJP MLA (#KuldeepSinghSengar), accused of raping a minor, meets an SSP at his residence at 11 30 at night, and tells media that he paid a visit to say that if police needs him, he will be available.— V.I.V.E.K (@ivivek_nambiar) April 11, 2018
What's happening in UP...it's all Rape news everywhere ...Disgusting!!— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) June 4, 2014
Sengar’s brother Atul Singh Sengar and six police officers were arrested by Uttar Pradesh police in connection with Singh’s killing.