The uproar over the death in custody of the father of a 17-year-old girl who alleged she had been raped by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar saw UP police arrest Atul Singh, the MLA’s brother. On Tuesday, he became the fifth person to be held — and sent to judicial custody — in connection with the brutal assault on the girl’s father that led to his death early Monday. Police also promised to question the MLA as part of their probe.
But such is the clout of Sengar and his family, so complete their grip on the village of Makhi, barely 15 km from Unnao, that the girl and her family have refused to return home, saying they fear for their lives.
Stopped by the police when they tried to immolate themselves last Sunday near the Chief Minister’s residence in Lucknow to protest police inaction, they have turned to Unnao District Magistrate Ravi Kumar NG for help and he has arranged for their stay at a government guest house.
“Following a request made by the victim’s family, I have arranged accommodation for them in Unnao,” the District Magistrate told The Indian Express.
The girl’s mother, who was waiting at the residence of the District Magistrate, said: “We will not return to the village until the situation is normal. The MLA and his associates must be planning something. No one in the village will dare support us. No one will raise his voice against the MLA and his family. They hold all administrative posts in the village.”
The MLA’s wife, Sangeeta Singh Sengar, is the Unnao zila panchayat president while Atul Singh’s wife Archana Singh is the village pradhan.
In Makhi village, very few were ready to discuss the incident or the MLA and his family though there is heavy police deployment now. Most men have left the village for the time being, scared they may be asked to join the probe. Arjun Singh, one of the residents, said: “Such is the clout of the MLA that the victim’s family had to approach court to file an FIR against him. The authorities follow his directions.”
Rakesh Singh, another resident, recalled that the girl’s father was attacked as he headed home on April 3. “He was on his way home when he was stopped by the MLA’s associates and assaulted. They took him to the MLA’s house and beat him with sticks outside the house. This happened in the presence of many people,” he said, adding that the local police were called and told to take him away.
Police booked the man in an Arms Act case and for offences under sections of the IPC. On April 8, when his condition deteriorated, he was sent to the district hospital from jail. On April 9, at around 3.40 am, he passed away.
Related Report | Day after girl alleged rape by BJP MLA, her father dies in custody
Unnao Chief Medical Officer Sushil Prakash Chaudhary said: “As per the autopsy report (of the girl’s father), the cause of death is shock due to septicaemia, peritonitis, ascending colon perforation. On April 3, when he was brought to the hospital by police, there were 14 injuries of blunt objects on different parts of the body, including shoulder, thigh, chest and stomach.”
No member of the MLA’s family was present in their house when The Indian Express reached there Tuesday — it is opposite the house of the girl and her family. On the Sengar premises are two temples and an intermediate college. The MLA’s associate Mahendra Trivedi, who was present at the house, said: “Political opponents of the MLA have framed him and his family in a false case.”
Sengar is a four-term MLA. He first won an assembly election from Unnao Sadar in 2002 as a BSP candidate. In 2007, he won on a SP ticket from Bangarmau. In 2012, he was declared victorious from Bhagwant Nagar, again on a SP ticket. In the 2017 election, he was again elected from Bangarmau, this time on a BJP ticket.
Makhi SHO Rajendra Singh said: “After the death of the victim (the girl’s father), the charge of murder has been added to the case. Five persons, including Atul Singh, all resident of the same village, have been arrested. They were produced before a court in Unnao which sent them to judicial custody.”
The girl’s uncle said “when no one showed any interest in filing an FIR against the MLA, we moved court, seeking directions to police to file a case.” He said his brother, who had been with him in Delhi, had gone to Unnao on April 3 for a court hearing, and that when he reached Makhi, he was attacked by the MLA’s associates.
After the MLA’s brother was arrested Tuesday, ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told a press conference in Lucknow: “The SIT will go into the entire gamut of issues involved in the incident.” He said the SIT will be headed by ADG (Lucknow zone).
To a question on the possibility of the role of influential persons in the case, the ADG said, “The SIT will establish all that… As you know the SHO of the police station and five other policemen have been suspended on grounds of dereliction of duty and mala fide consideration. The entire issue will be reconstructed. Whoever is culpable, whosoever has tried to shield any person, will be taken to task.”
Asked whether a clean chit had been given to the MLA, the ADG said, “Nobody has given any clean chit to anybody. The investigation by the SIT will establish the culpability of anyone and everyone involved in this episode and action will be taken accordingly. I can tell you that no guilty will be spared… The SIT will interrogate all the persons involved in this case, including the MLA.”
Meanwhile, the NHRC has sent a notice to the UP government and the state police chief, seeking a detailed report on the custodial death of the man. It has asked authorities to ensure that “the aggrieved family is not subjected to further harassment”.