Protesters stepped up demands yesterday for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to sack a state lawmaker accused by a young woman of raping her, holding several demonstrations just days after the accuser was critically injured in a highway collision.
Opposition groups say Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP is protecting Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a legislator from the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, whom the woman accused of the rape in 2017.
“Why do we give people like Kuldeep Sengar the strength and protection of political power and abandon their victims to battle for their lives alone?” Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra asked on Twitter.
She called on Modi to immediately sack Sengar, named on Monday in a report to police, who are investigating a car crash at the weekend that has left the victim battling for her life.
The woman’s lawyer was also critically injured while two women passengers who were travelling with them in the car were killed.
She was put on ventilator support after her health deteriorated further on Monday morning.
Her lawyer Mahendra Singh has been on ventilator ever since he was brought to the KGMU Trauma Centre on Sunday evening, hours after the accident.
“The girl has sustained internal injuries besides fractures in her collar bone, ribs and right thigh. The lawyer has head injury besides 13 fractures. Both are on ventilator and their condition remains critical,” said trauma surgery head Sandeep Tiwari.
Samir Misra, a senior faculty member at the trauma surgery, said: “The girl is in shock. She has suffered multiple fractures in the femur bone, ribs and collar bone as well as injury in the chest.”
Hospital sources said one of the girl’s ribs had punctured her lungs and she was unable to breathe normally.
The state government has announced free treatment for both.
However, a relative of the rape victim said: “I have paid Rs14,000 for medicines and diagnostic tests since Sunday afternoon and have all bills as proof.”
KGMU sources said that the same would be reimbursed after the state government’s announcement.
Doctors, however, said that the incessant stream of visitors, including politicians and media, were causing great inconvenience to other patients.
Asked whether there was any proposal to shift the victim and her lawyer to Delhi, the doctors said: “They are being given the best possible treatment under the circumstances. If the family wants to shift them elsewhere, it is their decision.”
The accused lawmaker denies the charges, but the case has put the spotlight on the crime situation in Uttar Pradesh.
State Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has said law and order in the state has improved since his party took power in 2017.
A party spokesman in the state, Rakesh Tripathi, said a disciplinary panel suspended Sengar last year and asked for his explanation.
“He has not been sacked yet because the charges haven’t been proven,” Tripathi added.
Former chief minister Mayawati said the ruling BJP was protecting Sengar, and asked the Supreme Court to intervene.
Congress party workers staged a demonstration in the state capital of Lucknow, where the victim is in hospital.
“My daughter is critical, there is no improvement in her condition,” her mother said yesterday.
Dozens of opposition lawmakers protested outside the parliament, holding placards with slogans such as “India Ashamed #Unnao”, referring to the site of the crime.
Elsewhere in the Indian capital, women and students’ groups also held protests.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) has urged Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP working president J P Nadda to sack the Sengar from the party and the Uttar Pradesh assembly.
“The minor girl had been gang-raped by Senger along with his aides. The Uttar Pradesh police refused to register an FIR for over one year. Instead her father was arrested and assaulted by the brother and supporters of Sengar in police custody,” DCW chief Swati Maliwal said.
In a letter, the DCW chief said the victim attempted to immolate herself in front of the residence of the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh and a day later, her father died in a hospital of injuries inflicted in police custody.