Expelled BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been convicted by Delhi's Tis Hazari Court in the Unnao rape case. The Court, however, acquitted Shashi Singh in the case. The quantum of punishment will be decided tomorrow. This brings us to the primary question of the suffering the Unnao victim and family went through in their quest of justice. Both the parents of the Unnao rape victim died post the incident and the survivor herself is battling for life in a hospital after she met with a road accident earlier.
Will punishing Kuldeep Sengar alone bring justice to the Unnao rape victim is the question that needs to be asked? What about those people who connived with Sengar to add to the misery of the rape survivor? Hasn’t the system that is exploited by Sengar and associates also to blame? What remains to be seen is how the people who helped Sengar or were involved in protecting him are brought to justice.
The 30-month long trauma
The case dates back to 2017 when a 17-year-old girl was abducted and gangraped for over a week in Unnao. The case was a unfortunate and sordid saga depicting the prevalence of powerful vs the powerless struggle in our country. Several incidents were reported by the victim's family where the kins of the minor girl were threatened by a blatant abuse of power by the ex-BJP MLA and his men in Uttar Pradesh.
The case also marked an example of many cases in India which are subject to major administrative neglect and police callousness. The initial chargesheet filed by the police did not even name the main suspect Kuldeep Sengar, nor his brother, Atul singh. The family on several occasions also accused Sengar of enjoying a certain degree of leniency because of his political allegiances.
The victim's father was physically assaulted in 2018 reportedly by Sengar's brother. In a wounded state, the father was tied to a tree in his own village. If that was not enough, he was then taken to jail rather than hospital and charged of violence. Later, he died in the police custody, reports claimed that this happened because of brutality by the policemen on specific orders from Sengar and his accomplishes to force him to take back the case.
Later the police booked the victim's brother for bashing up the MLA's brother in 2018.
Not being able to take the sorrow of two of her sons dragged by the police and charged on false context, the victim's ailing mother died of her illness.
If this was not enough, the survivor with her lawyer, Mahendra, met with tragic accident after a truck rammed into their car. The survivor and her lawyer were admitted at Delhi’s AIIMS with serious injuries. However, while the survivor recuperated well, her lawyer is far from gaining back all his faculties. A lot of reports alleged the BJP MLA to be behind this 'accident.'
The formal complaint was only filed after the girl protested outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence in Lucknow. It came to a point where the girl threatened to set herself ablaze to have the authorities take action on her complaint.
BJP was silent for 2 years
On August 1, 2019, 2 years after the actual crime was committed, the Bharatiya Janata Party finally expelled Kuldeep Senger, the chief suspect. From June 04 2017 till August 1, 2019 -- BJP was in a state of denial about the crime committed by a man who was a four time MLA from the Party in the state of UP. Even when the MLA was expelled, no formal statement of expulsion was issued by the BJP.
Sengar was put in Sitapur jail soon after formal charges were laid against the BJP MLA by the CBI. But, such was his influence, that BJP's Sakshi Maharaj, who won comfortably from Unnao in Lok Sabha elections 2019, visited Sengar in jail after her victory and thanked him.
"He is lodged in the jail for a long time. Sengar is one of the most popular lawmakers so I came to thank him after the elections," Sakshi Maharaj had told the reporters.
Will the BJP now accept that the their go to man in the region is a convict rapist? BJP, who claims to have 'zero tolerance' for crimes in their cadre, will they now introspect on their own people?
So what about true justice?
The courts may have convicted Sengar for his barbaric crime, but to say that this is true justice will be going a bit too far. The survivor had to go through unimaginable trauma for 2 and a half years. She has both her parents die in the time while she was still struggling with her fight against the unjust. She was also a victim of several misconducts that only occurred due to administrative negligence and political powerplay. Every little pawn in this larger politically motivated crime saga must be held accountable for the part they played. They must answer for their crimes individually.
Also, the law must set a precedent -- being from the political class does not give you a license to kill or to do whatever you want. Law must set an example that is quoted every time a politician tries to flex his muscle in front of the ordinary citizens of this country.