The Unnao rape case took a new turn on Sunday when a truck whose number plates were covered in black paint rammed into a car in which the survivor, her mother, lawyer and other family members were traveling.
The incident has left the woman and her lawyer in critical condition and two women relatives dead. The family were on their way to Raebareli to meet the survivor’s uncle, who is serving a life term in a separate case.
The mother of the survivor has blamed four time-BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar, the accused in the case who has now been in jail for over a year, for the accident.
NDTV quoted the mother as saying, “I have got to know that the lawmaker got it done. He is inside... he has a phone inside (the jail). He is doing everything sitting inside the jail,” the woman’s mother told reporters. “Sengar is in jail but his men aren’t. He and his men were threatening us... We want justice.”
On Monday, Sengar was charged for murder along with nine others after the Uttar Pradesh police came under fire for their lax handling of the case. NDTV quoted the FIR as saying that the security personnel in charge of the woman’s safety had kept Sengar in the loop about her movements. They were not in the car at the time of the accident.
The survivor has accused Sengar and his accomplices of raping her in 2017—she was a minor then—when she was taken to his home by a women on the pretext of getting her a job.
The family has alleged earlier that they had been threatened by Sengar and his brother to withdraw the case against them.
After news of Sunday’s accident was reported, many journalists and others pointed out a series of incidents that have occurred since the woman made her complaint that make the current development seem suspicious.
Though Sengar is in jail, he still holds huge clout in Unnao, and was even visited by BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, after he won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
April 2018: Survivor’s father dies after being arrested and assaulted
The survivor’s father was falsely booked under the Arms Act and sent to jail on 5 April 2018, days after the family managed to get an FIR registered against Sengar. This was done only after the girl attempted self-immolation in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s house, demanding an FIR against the MLA.
On 9 April 2018, the father died in hospital, a week after he was attacked in jail, allegedly by accomplices of the MLA. A medical examination showed that he had been beaten.
Atul Sengar, the MLA’s brother, was arrested in the case a day after.
In July 2018, the CBI registered a case against Sengar and nine others, including Atul Sengar and three policemen, for falsely framing the survivor’s father.
August 2018: Key witness in father’s assault case dies
In August 2018, Yunus, a key witness in the assault case of the father died. The uncle of the girl had alleged foul play, saying that Yunus’ body was hurriedly buried without even an autopsy.
The police, however, claimed that the 30-year-old died of a liver illness.
December 2018: Survivor, mother charged
The survivor and mother were charged in December 2018 for reportedly forging her birth certificate to claim she was a minor. The FIR was filed after a petition from Haripal Singh, whose wife and son have also been accused in the rape case.
July 2019: Survivor’s uncle sentenced to 10 years in jail
The woman’s uncle was convicted in a 19-year-old case of attempt to murder and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. The case had been filed by was filed by Sengar’s brother, Atul Singh.
2017 and after: Harassment by cops
The girl had gone missing in June 2017, after which the family registered a missing complaint. After the woman was recovered and her statement was recorded in court, she had said the police had not let her name the MLA. She had also later alleged police harassment.
Reactions to Sunday’s incident
The opposition has lashed out at the ruling BJP in UP after Sunday’s incident. Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Monday that the road accident was “shocking”. She also wondered whether any hope for justice can be expected from the ruling BJP, whose MLA Kuldeep Sengar is an accused in the case.
“The road accident involving the Unnao rape victim is shocking. Where has the CBI probe in this case reached?” she asked on Twitter. “Why is the accused MLA still in the BJP? Why is there laxity in the security of the victim and the witnesses?”
“Can you hope for any justice from the BJP government without an answer to these questions,” the Congress leader added.
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav alleged that it could be a conspiracy to kill her and demanded a CBI probe into the incident. On the directives of Yadav, three SP MLCs went to the trauma centre and enquired about the condition of the rape survivor and her family, SP chief spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary said.
“The accident involving the Unnao rape victim in Rae Bareli is a serious incident, and there could be possibility of murder behind this incident,” Yadav said in a statement issued here.
“This incident has links with a BJP MLA and there is BJP government in the state. There is ‘jungle raaj’ in the state. The criminals are roaming fearlessly. Only a CBI probe will solve this mystery,” he added.
There was also an uproar in Rajya Sabha over the incident.
What the police said
Uttar Pradesh DGP OP Singh called Sunday’s incident “purely an accident” and said that a fair probe would be carried out.
Singh said the truck’s driver and owner had been arrested.
Quoting eyewitnesses, Raebareli Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar Singh said that an over-speeding truck hit the car carrying the rape survivor. “There were showers and the truck driver lost control over the vehicle which rammed into the car,” he said.
The truck driver had fled from the spot after the accident.
(with PTI inputs)