From the Viewsroom

The painful road to justice

| Updated on August 05, 2019

The Unnao case shows yet again the ruthlessness of the ‘powerful’

The Unnao rape survivor’s tale is a horrific narrative that serves to illustrate the utter failure of our criminal justice system to act swiftly against powerful people guilty of perpetrating heinous crimes against women, the weak and the marginalised. In this case, a 17-year-old girl was allegedly raped by the local BJP MLA, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, in June 2017 at Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. She was sent off with the assurance of a suitable placement provided she kept her silence about the incident.

But the teenager and her family filed an FIR with the local police. Predictably, nothing came of their complaint. Instead, Sengar and his men threatened the family for daring to report the rape. And almost as if they were carrying out the threat, the local police arrested the girl’s father in a false case under the Arms Act on April 3, 2018. Two days later he died in police custody.

It was at this juncture that the girl decided to take the protest to the State capital, Lucknow. She threatened to immolate herself before the residence of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath if no action was taken. The case suddenly made news and became an issue of sorts at the time of the general elections. But it was soon forgotten till the vehicle in which the victim was travelling with two aunts and her lawyer was recently rammed by a truck with blackened number plates. The aunts died while the victim and her counsel are battling for their lives in a Lucknow hospital.

Though the case has drawn public outrage across the country, women MPs from the ruling party have maintained a conspicuous silence. The Supreme Court too came rather late into the picture, after the family had faced the worst. Since then the apex court has directed the State Government to pay a ₹25 lakh compensation to the victim’s family and the investigation has been handed over to the CBI. Meanwhile, under public pressure the BJP has finally decided to expel Sengar from the party. But let us not forget and dismiss Unnao as another case of justice delayed — seven years after Nirbhaya we have not learnt any lessons.

Preeti Mehra Editorial Consultant

Published on August 05, 2019

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