Unnao rape case a blot on Yogi regime; more needs to be done

It must be said without hesitation that the Uttar Pradesh administration has completely mishandled the Unnao rape case. Worse, it has been seen as shielding the accused, who happens to be a Legislator from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. This was not expected of the Yogi Adityanath Government, which had come to power a year ago with a huge mandate and promise to revamp the failed law and order situation in the State.

It should know that law and order is not restricted to containing anti-social elements and conducting encounters of gangsters. In ordinary circumstance, when a woman alleges rape and names the person, the accused is instantly taken into custody and the police begins interrogation and investigation. In the Unnao case, nothing of the sort happened. The accused, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, was not even summoned to the police station. In desperation, the woman turned up outside the Chief Minister’s house and attempted suicide to highlight the failure. Her father was taken into custody and there he was allegedly roughed up by the MLA’s brother, following which he died. The brother has been arrested, but when the MLA turned up at the police station, the officials there told him that he was not needed for now.

Some evidence has also emerged that the accused person had tried to first persuade the victim to remain quiet and when that effort failed he threatened her and her family with dire consequences. Emboldened by the generosity of the State administration, Sengar has not just brushed aside the allegation against him but also atrociously said that the woman was of a low standing and apt to level false charges. It was only after a public outcry that a special investigation team has been set up to look into the incident. The matter has also reached the Allahabad High Court. The Adityanath Government could have easily avoided its image from being blemished had it acted promptly by arresting the accused and then letting the law take its course.

After all, everybody gets a fair chance in a judicial trial, and Sengar would have an opportunity to prove his innocence — if indeed he is being framed as he alleges. It beats reason as to why the BJP regime in the State decided to score one self-goal after another. Understandably, political opponents have used the occasion to cast aspersions on the BJP and ridicule Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s women-empowerment drive. The Uttar Pradesh Government must at least now act decisively.