The news that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has declared its panchayat poll candidates who will contest in five districts would have barely made it to a brief mention. However it is the choice of Sangeeta Sengar, who is the wife of former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a man convicted in a rape case of a minor that should concern voters.
The BJP, which often repeats the slogan ‘beti bachao’ or ‘save/ protect daughters’, especially in Uttar Pradesh, where news of rapes, are reported regulrly, has now chosen to award the wife of a rape convict and given her the opportunity to be a people’s representative.
Sangeeta, who was the Zila Panchayat Chairperson of Unnao from 2016 to 2021 and has been given a ticket from Fatehpur Chaurasi Tritaya to contest for the seat of Zila Panchayat member. According to news reports, 51 names were released for different Zila Panchayat wards in Unnao. According to a report in The Times of India, Sangeeta’s candidature “was approved by state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh and state general secretary (organisation) Sunil Bansal at a meeting held recently.” Three-tier panchayat elections are going to be held in four phases from April 15 in UP stated news reports.
Her huband, Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been a four-time MLA on the BJP ticket from Bangarmau and was arrested in 2017 on charges of of raping a minor. The case was widely reported and came to be known as the infamous ‘Unnao Rape Case’. Kuldeep Singh Sengar was removed from the BJP in August 2019, followed by his ouster from the Legislative Assembly.
In December 2019 the Court found Kuldeep Sengar guilty, in the high-profile case that sent shock-waves ever since it first came to light in April 2018, when the survivor tried to self-immolate outside UP Chief Minister Adityanath’s home demanding justice. Sengar’s co-accused Shashi Singh was acquitted. The court had then observed, “Sengar was a powerful person, the victim was a village girl, not from a cosmopolitan educated area which led to delay in filing cases. I found her statement truthful, unblemished that she was sexually assaulted and under threat”.
The Court convicted Sengar under section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code as well as section 5(c) of POCSO Act for the offence of public servant committing penetrative sexual assault against a child. Reportedly, Kuldeep Sengar broke down after hearing the verdict in court. The survivor, now aged 19, was a minor at the time of the crime.
The crime was committed in 2017, but the BJP took its own time to expel Sengar who used his political might to ensure he escaped justice for as long as he could. He was arrested only in April 2018, days after the survivor threatened to set herself ablaze. As a BJP candidate, Kuldeep Sengar had won the state Assembly polls from Bangarmau Assembly seat of Unnao in 2017. However, the seat fell vacant after he was convicted in the rape case and was expelled from the party.
The CBI had chargesheeted Sengar for raping a minor and also for conspiring to implicate her father in a false case. The rape survivor’s father was assaulted and framed in a case of illegal firearms possession allegedly by the Sengar and his aides. He died in judicial custody on April 9, 2018, a day after the survivor tried to set herself ablaze outside UP CM Adityanath’s residence. In March last year, a Delhi court convicted BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and six others of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in the death case of the Unnao Rape survivor’s father.
Courtesy: Sabrang India