Lucknow police on Friday arrested former IPS officer Amitabh Thakur on charges including abetment of suicide of a rape victim and her friend, who had set themselves on fire outside the Supreme Court on August 16, and died subsequently..
The 24-year-old victim, who had accused BSP Lok Sabha MP Atul Rai of raping her at his Varanasi home in 2018 and alleged that Thakur helped the MP in harassing and threatening her to withdraw her case or weaken it, had died in a Delhi hospital on August 24.
Her friend, who was 27, had died days before.
Before setting themselves on fire, the two had recorded a Facebook Live video, in which the victim said she had lodged a rape case against the MP, and accused police of supporting him. They had claimed that the threats and harassment were driving them towards death by suicide.
Thakur’s family on Friday announced that he would form a political party. The former IPS officer, a known critic of the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh, had recently said that he would contest next year’s Assembly elections against the Chief Minister. Thakur’s wife Nutan Thakur, an advocate and social activist, could not be reached for a comment.
The Thakurs have filed many PILs and RTI queries over the years, against governments under different parties.
In 2017, Nutan Thakur moved court regarding the Gorakhpur tragedy in which children had died at Baba Raghav Das Medical College. In 2013, she had filed a petition seeking direction for a CBI inquiry into all major riots that took place in UP after the Samajwadi Party came to power in 2012. The same year, they had filed a petition against the then UP chief secretary Jawed Usmani over vacancies in the SC and ST Commission.
In March this year, the Union Home Ministry gave premature retirement from service to Thakur, a 1992-batch IPS officer. He was given retirement even before competition of service in “public interest”, the ministry stated.
Rai, Lok Sabha MP from Ghosi, is lodged in Prayagraj’s Naini Jail in connection with the rape case.
On August 18, the UP government had formed a two-member probe panel led by DGP (Police Recruitment and Promotion Board) Raj Kumar Vishwakarma and comprising Additional D-G (Women Power Line) Neera Rawat to look into the allegations of the woman, who was a native of UP’s Ballia district and a university student in Varanasi .
The panel submitted its report to the state government on Friday. Based on it, Lucknow police lodged an FIR against Thakur and Rai at city’s Hazratganj police station on a complaint by sub-inspector Daya Shankar Dwivedi.
DCP, Central (Lucknow), Khyati Garg said the panel’s report prime facie held Thakur and Rai responsible for abetment of suicide and other charges. It recommended lodging cases against them, Garg said.
Thakur was arrested from outside his residence in Lucknow’s Gomti Nagar in the afternoon. In a video that emerged on social media, Thakur is seen refusing to be taken by the police team that arrived to arrest him. He refused to go with the police team until he was given a copy of FIR, and was heard claiming that police were acting illegally.
Police are likely to consider the Facebook video the victim and her friend put out as their dying declaration.
Additional DGP (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar confirmed Thakur’s arrest and said further action is being taken.
The FIR against Thakur and Rai has been filed under IPC Sections 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 195-A (threatening any person to false evidence), 218 (public servant framing incorrect record, etc), 306 (abetment of suicide), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
The probe panel’s report stated that victim had lodged a case of rape, criminal intimidation and cheating against Atul Rai at Varanasi’s Lanka police station on May 1, 2019. Police said pressure was allegedly built on her soon after by filing seven FIRs against her and other witnesses. Police said the report mentions a letter the victim had given to the then Varanasi SSP on November 10, 2020. It purportedly stated that Thakur allegedly took money from Rai to prepare false evidence against the victim.
The victim complained that Rai allegedly raped her when she had gone to his flat in Varanasi to meet his family members, including wife. The woman, who studied at a university in Varanasi, also complained that Rai allegedly recorded the sexual assault and threatened to circulate it on social media if she took the c ase forward.
On June 22, 2019, Atul Rai surrendered before a court, which sent him to judicial custody. Lodged in jail since, Rai won the Lok Sabha election from inside jail.
Police have filed a chargesheet against Rai in the rape case, and the case is pending in a Prayagraj local court.
In November 2020, Rai’s brother Pawan Kumar lodged a case against the victim, accusing her of forging government documents that had her date of birth. A case was registered at Cantonment police station in Varanasi against the woman and his friend on the court’s direction.