When the BJP swept Uttar Pradesh in 2014, winning 71 parliamentary seats out of 80 outright (and then adding another two to its kitty later), and once again swept the state in the 2017 Assembly elections, it promised ‘Ram Rajya’ to voters. ‘Mahila ke samaan main BJP maidan main’ (the BJP is in the fray to fight for the respect of women) was one major slogan.
Only one year later, the reality is vastly different. A16-year-old girl and her family have for the past year have been seeking justice, alleging that BJP MLA from Unnao, Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his accomplices, had raped her and that despite a written complaint, the police refused to file a complaint against the lawmaker.
After a year of failed attempts to get the police to act, the victim and her family in desperation approached Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and even tried to immolate themselves. But instead of paying attention to the complainants, the girl’s father, Surendra Singh, was taken into custody, where he was badly beaten, allegedly by the BJP MLA’s relatives and some say, even by the police, and died. Several pictures and videos on social media handles allegedly show the torture.
But as voices of protest and outrage have snowballed these last few days, the chief minister seems to be brazenly trying to whitewash the entire incident. He has now, belatedly, announced the setting up of an SIT to probe this incident.
As we watch this sordid tale unfold, we remember how the BJP politically exploited the tragic case of the Nirbhaya rape in December 2012. But under its watch, crimes against women have sky-rocketed, be it in Kathua in Jammu & Kashmir, where an eight-year-old girl was repeatedly raped and murdered, or in Naliya in Kutch where the victim was allegedly drugged, raped and blackmailed, and now in Unnao in Uttar Pradesh.
The Chief Minister and the Prime Minister have both kept very quiet. Forget about ensuring accountability, the PM has set a very dangerous precedent for those who wish to see more transparency from elected representatives. The Adityanath government’s ‘Anti-Romeo squads’ have hardly helped in controlling violence. Acording to National Crimes Records Bureau data, UP tops the charts in crimes against women. In the first two months of Yogi Adityanath’s tenure, 803 incidents of rape and 729 murders have been reported.
The numbers demonstrate a chilling indifference on the part of the government. Isn’t it shameful that the victim’s family is scared to return home because they fear the BJP MLA will retaliate , leveraging the sheer power he wields in the constituency. Isn’t it a crying shame that the MLA is being seen to be threatening the victim’s uncle with impunity and without the fear of law?
Shouldn’t the Modi government hold the Yogi Adityanath government accountable for this injustice perpetrated against the girl’s family? What stops the Yogi government from sacking this MLA? Remember, that the Chief Minister also holds the Home portfolio in UP, and can certainly take prompt action if he chooses to.
As a woman, I demand that the chief minister and his ruling party take action against the perpetrators. I would like the government to bring justice to those who are victims of violence and ensure that something as basic as an FIR is filed by the complainant, without an attempt to shield those who are in power.
The BJP has promised us the safety of women, again and again, but just like every promise of theirs, the safety and security of women is proving to be yet another jumla.’