The Unnao rape case involving Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar as the key accused was handed over by the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) due to the intervention of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), according to news agency reports. However, the PMO's intervention is not likely to blunt the Opposition's attack on the government, with Congress President Rahul Gandhi holding a candlelight protest at India Gate at midnight today over the Unnao and Kathua rape incidents.Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court came down heavily on the Adityanath government today regarding the Unnao rape, asking it whether it proposes to arrest accused Sengar. When the government submitted before the court that for arresting the rape-accused MLA, it needed to do further investigation, the HC said it would "be forced to observe" in its order "that law and order has collapsed in the state". The court will pronounce its order tomorrow.
Several Union ministers today sought to defend the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, which is facing criticism over its handling of the alleged gangrape of a minor girl in Unnao, saying that it is committed to protecting women and ensuring that the law takes its course. However, despite the Centre and the state government's attempt at a defence, Congress leader Kapil Sibal attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his alleged silence over the Unnao rape case and questioned why the accused BJP MLA was yet to be arrested. Sibal also asked Modi to observe a fast over the incidents of rape and to register his protest against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the Unnao rape case.
Meanwhile, the police in Uttar Pradesh, which has come under fire for its alleged role in the death of the victim's father and been accused of negligence by the state government itself, today registered an FIR against Sengar in connection with the Unnao rape case. The FIR against Sengar has been filed under Sections 363, 366, 376, 506, and the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Under POCSO, an accused has to be arrested immediately after a case been filed. The development came hours after the government said it would hand the probe over to the CBI. Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said that until the premier investigating agency takes over, the local police would continue with its probe. However, Kumar said that a decision on whether the accused MLA from the ruling party would be arrested would be taken by the CBI.
The Unnao rape survivor, for her part, is not content with a long-drawn CBI probe, while the accused MLA roams free. Having lost her father, who reportedly died in judicial custody, the 18-year-old rape survivor thinks her uncle's life is in danger. "I just want their arrest first, then CBI probe should be done. Why are they being saved? If they are out, they will not spare my uncle. When they have already killed my father, what doubt is there?" she said.
Last night, the special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the government handed over its report; after which, it was decided an FIR would be lodged against the MLA and the case handed over to the CBI.
On April 8, the victim, along with her family members, also tried to commit suicide in front of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence in Lucknow. Prior to this, on April 3, the rape victim's father was allegedly thrashed by the accused MLA's brother for refusing to withdraw the FIR, and on April 5, he died in hospital. However, the family alleged that he was murdered.Here are the top ten developments in the Unnao rape case involving BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar:
1) Rahul Gandhi to lead candlelight protest at midnight over Unnao and Kathua rape incidents: Congress President Rahul Gandhi, along with Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra arrived at India Gate India Gate. Several activists, students and other citizens alos joined the vigil, according to media reports.
In the march, Gandhi said the women of the country are afraid to go out today and Prime Minister Narendra Modi must start the job of 'Beti Bachao' (save the girl child).
"We are here against crimes being committed against women, against rapes, violence and murder and the government must act on this. This is a national issue and not a political one," Rahul Gandhi said at the march towards the India Gate here in the heart of the national capital.
"This is about our women. Thousands are present here including the common people and people from all parties. This situation in the country is such today that one after another incident of murder, rape and violence is taking place. We are standing here against that and we want the government to act," reported Press Trust of India.Taking a swipe at the prime minister's proposed hunger strike over the non-functioning of Parliament, Gandhi had on Wednesday asked whether Modi would observe a fast on the Unnao incident, which he said "has shamed humanity".
"The barbarism inflicted on a father seeking justice for his daughter in Uttar Pradesh has shamed humanity. Hope the prime minister will soon observe a fast over atrocities against women, failed law and order and increasing anarchy under the BJP's watch," Gandhi said on Twitter.
Like millions of Indians my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) April 12, 2018
Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice.
2) Modi's intervention led to Unnao rape case probe being handed over to CBI: The Unnao rape case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation upon the intervention of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), sources told news agency ANI. The Uttar Pradesh government on Thursday handed over the Unnao rape case, wherein BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is the prime accused, to the CBI.
#Unnao rape case handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation upon Prime Minister's Office's (PMO) intervention: Sources— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 12, 2018
3) Allahabad HC warns Adityanath govt its order could say law and order has collapsed in UP: The Allahabad High Court came down heavily on the Uttar Pradesh government today regarding the Unnao rape incident and warned that it could be forced to observe in its order that law and order have collapsed in the state. The court asked Advocate General Raghvendra Singh whether the government proposes to arrest Sengar. Singh said that he was not in a position to make any statement in this regard and that the police will proceed in accordance with the law only after recording statements of the complainant and witnesses. The court referred to the SIT report and said, "According to it, medical officers and police officers, all were hand in glove with the accused to save them and you acted on this report against those officers but for arresting rape accused you need to do further investigation."
"... In spite of the SIT report, you are repeating that we can only take any action after further investigation, if this is the conduct of the police in state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint. If this is the stand you are repeatedly taking, then we will be forced to observe in our order that law and order has collapsed in the state," it said.
A Bench of Chief Justice D B Bhosale and Justice Suneet Kumar, taking cognisance of the gangrape case on a letter to the court by senior lawyer Gopal Swaroop Chaturvedi, heard the matter in detail and will pronounce its order tomorrow.
Read here how the Allahabad HC slammed the Adityanath government over the Unnao rape case: Unnao gangrape case: HC slams UP govt over delay in MLA's arrest; FIR registered finally
4) HC slams UP police's conduct in Unnao rape case: The Allahabad High Court also questioned the conduct of the police in the case, asking whom will a victim approach to register a complaint. The court referred to the special investigation team's (SIT's) report and said, "According to it, medical officers and police officers, all were hand in glove with the accused to save them...."
"Police was not ready to register FIR of the minor rape victim. In spite of the SIT report, you are repeating that we can only take any action after further investigation, if this is the conduct of the police in state, whom will a victim approach to register a complaint," observed the court.
Read our coverage from earlier today on the Unnao rape case: Unnao rape case: Why has BJP MLA not been arrested yet, HC asks UP govt
5) BJP ministers defend Adityanath govt over its handling of Unnao rape case: Several Union ministers today sought to defend the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, saying that it is committed to protecting women and ensuring that the law takes its course. "... When we say Beti Bachao, we really mean that. We are here to safeguard the interests of our daughters and we are committed to their safety. As far as Unnao incident is concerned, the law of justice will prevail," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told reporters. Sharma said whosoever is found responsible for the incident, irrespective of his stature, will be punished. Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said action should be taken in every such case against women. "This is distressing and justice will be done. The case has been given to CBI and law will take its course," she said. Backing the Adityanath government, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the Uttar Pradesh government is working day and night to maintain law and order in the state. "The state government will bring to book all the culprits in the state," he said.
ALSO READ: Gambhir, Sania express anguish over Unnao, Kathua rape incidents
6) CBI to decide whether Sengar will be arrested in Unnao rape case: Answering a volley of questions on whether Sengar would be arrested now that a case had been registered, Principal Secretary (Home) Arvind Kumar said that the CBI would take a decision on this depending on the merit of the case after investigations. Kumar also dismissed allegations that the police was trying to shield the MLA and said that it was because of these charges that the probe was being given to the CBI.
Kumar said the government had decided to transfer the case to the CBI after lodging the case into the incidents of June 4, 2017, (alleged rape) and since the two other cases of April 3 this year (cross FIRs on the beating up of the victim's father leading to his death) are connected, they would also be transferred to the CBI.
7) UP govt extends security to Unnao rape survivor's family: The government has decided to extend security to the family of the Unnao rape survivor, state Director General of Police (DGP) O P Singh said. The teen rape survivor has alleged that she was confined to a hotel room by the district administration, leaving her "without a phone or water and guards at every corner".
ALSO READ: Unnao victim now fears for her uncle's life
8) Unnao rape survivor says BJP MLA might take her uncle's life: After losing her father, the 18-year-old rape survivor thinks her uncle's life is in danger. "I just want their arrest first, then CBI probe should be done. Why are they being saved? If they are out, they will not spare my uncle. When they have already killed my father, what doubt is there?" she said. Unable to speak further, the victim broke down in tears and lost consciousness. However, after being brought back to her senses, she further said, "I will get justice only if CBI investigates the case with honesty. How will I get justice if they don't investigate honestly?"
9) Cong questions PM Modi's 'silence' over Unnao rape case: Dubbing the BJP's protest on Parliament impasse as a "drama", the Congress today attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his "silence" on the Unnao and Kathua rape cases and asked whether he would observe a fast on the rising crimes against women under BJP rule in the country. The Congress demanded that Parliament be reconvened to discuss key issues, saying time has come for the prime minister and the BJP to "repent and apologise" to the people instead of indulging in "theatrics of a farcical fast (upvaas)", and that the ruling party was on its way to 'sanyaas' (retirement) and later 'vanvaas' (exile) in 2019.
Congress spokesperson Kapil Sibal asked why the accused BJP MLA in the Unnao gangrape case was yet to be arrested and alleged that the Uttar Pradesh chief minister was "protecting" the lawmaker.
National Commission for Women issues notice to BJP MLA from Bairia Surendra Singh over his comment on #Unnao rape case. He had said, 'I am speaking from psychological point of view, no one can rape a mother of 3 children.' (File pic) pic.twitter.com/OyeZqv9BDZ— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 12, 2018
Purported video of Unnao rape survivor's father before death goes viral: A purported video of the alleged rape survivor's father before his death has also gone viral and was aired by several TV news channels. In the video, he has alleged that he was mercilessly beaten up, including with rifle butts, by the BJP MLA's brother and others. It showed the victim's father - who died on Monday - with serious wounds on his back. The veracity of the video could not be ascertained.
With agency updates