SULTANPUR POLICE on Monday lodged a case of murder against local Samajwadi Party MLA Arun Verma a day after the body of a 20-year-old gangrape victim was recovered from a local school with injury marks around her neck. Verma, contesting from Sultanpur Sadar constituency on a Samajwadi Party ticket, was named by the victim in her statement before the magistrate in 2013 as one of the eight people who raped her at an isolated place in Sultanpur. She was a minor at the time.
The autopsy has not given a conclusive opinion about the cause of death — the report stated that ligature mark (marks made by cord or rope used for strangulation) was evident around neck and it appears to be ante-mortem hanging (hanging before death). Viscera collected from the body has been sent for laboratory test to confirm the cause of death, officials said.
MLA Arun Verma did not respond to phone calls for a comment. In 2013, while the victim had named Verma and seven others in her statement, the investigating officer had given a clean chit to three of those named, including the MLA, and had filed chargesheet in the case against five. The three accused are still lodged in jail. Superintendent of Police, Sultanpur, Pawan Kumar said a chargesheet was not filed against the MLA since investigation found that Verma was attending Assembly session in Lucknow when the crime took place. This was established through Verma’s phone records, and also video footage of Assembly proceedings, he said.
According to records, the victim and her father had turned hostile as witnesses, and had said in the court that Verma was not involved in the crime. The father submitted an application in the court in September last year requesting the court to summon Verma and record his statement. According to her family, the woman left home on Saturday evening and did not return. Her father subsequently lodged a missing complaint. On Sunday morning, her body was found from the campus of a government primary school about 50 metres from her house.
Ram Pratap Singh, the Station House Officer of Jaisinghpur police station, said the victim’s father lodged the complaint late Sunday night, alleging that MLA Arun Verma has got his daughter killed through unidentified aides since she had accused him of gangrape. SP Pawan Kumar said, “The autopsy report also stated that ligature mark, which is ante-mortem, found around the victim’s neck appears to be that of hanging. The report did not confirm the exact cause of death.”
Married, the victim and her seven-month-old child were staying at her parents’ house for the last four months. In September 2013, the victim had gone missing from a local hospital — she had gone there with her mother for treatment — and her father got an FIR lodged against an unidentified woman on charges of taking away his minor daughter to engage her in sex work. A few days later, the girl returned home on her own and her father got another case lodged, alleging his daughter was gangraped.
The police said the girl had subsequently accused eight people, including MLA Arun Verma, of gangrape while recording her statement before the magistrate. “During trial, the victim and her father gave statement in favour of the MLA, stating that he was not involved in the crime,” SP Pawan Kumar said. “But in September last year, the victim’s father moved an application before court to summon Verma in the case. The court has summoned the MLA.”
The chargesheet was filed against five others and trial of the case is going on. The court will hear the case next on February 21.