In 2017, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Uttar Pradesh allegedly raped a teenager. The incident stayed buried till 2018 when the teenager and her family, driven to despair by police refusal to register her complaint, attempted to immolate themselves outside Chief Minister Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow.
The very next day, the teenager’s father died in police custody, allegedly after being beaten up by Sengar’s brother. Sengar was also accused of framing the girl’s father in a false case in order to get him into police custody.
Ten days after this, a witness in the death of the teenager’s father died. The state administration claimed that he died due to an illness. But his relatives alleged foul play and demanded an autopsy – which was not done.
On Sunday, a car in which the teenager’s car was rammed by a lorry on the highway. The girl her lawyer were critically injured. Two of her aunts died in the collision.
Though the court had appointed a security detail for the teenager, the personnel were not with her in the car. Moreover, the lorry’s number plate had been blackened out.
While it is true that Sengar is yet to be convicted, it is surprising that the BJP has continued to support him despite the chilling sequence of rape and murder allegations.
In April, BJP MLA Surendra Singh dismissed the rape allegation, arguing that a mother of three children cannot get raped. Not only is this line of reasoning bizarre, it is also inaccurate: the teenage victim has no children. The same month, during the election campaign, Chief Minister Adityanath shared a stage with Sengar’s wife. After the results were declared, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj visited Sengar in jail and publicly thanked the accused for helping ensure the BJP’s victory.
Two years after the alleged rape, despite the death of the girl’s father and the collision on Sunday, Sengar is yet to even be expelled from the BJP.
In its 45-page manifesto for the 2019 elections, the BJP mentioned women 37 times, expressly promising to give women’s security greater priority. “We have constituted the Women’s Security Division in the Home Ministry, and have made strict provisions for transferring the laws in order to commit crimes against women, in particular in a time-bound investigation and trail for rape,” the document said. “In such cases, forensic facilities and fast track courts will be expanded to bring convicts to justice.”
As the Sengar episode shows, the BJP is yet to come good on its promises.