Unnao–Shame On The Nation

The sequence of the Unnao episode is abundantly clear, notwithstanding one section of the media's nefarious attempt to downplay the ghastly episode. A teen aged girl gang-raped by a BJP MLA in 2017 and his associates, her father beaten up by the goons employed by the goons of the culprit and then arrested by the police, his death in police custody, the girl and her mother's letter to the CJI asking for protection in the face of threats to life, the letter suppressed, Priyanka Gandhi prevented from meeting the girl's family and finally, attempt to kill the girl, her lawyer and mother by means of an intentional collision by driving a truck with blackened number plate into the car carrying the victim and her lawyer, leaving two aunts of the girl dead—all these are poignant pointers to an evil collusion between the ruling party, Yogi Adityanath's government, criminals posing as lawmakers and the police. It does not need a great exercise of brain to understand that the guilty MLA was in a position to receive all necessary information while in jail and to draw up plans. The conscience of the people has been shaken, but not yet fully. In the TV debates, the BJP spokespersons, avoiding any outright condemnation, are trying to save their face by referring to such misdeeds committed in the past in West Bengal and elsewhere. There is not yet any big movement for the punishment of the guilty. This a matter of shame. While the girl and the lawyer are fighting for their lives at a Lucknow hospital, the Supreme Court has taken up the case with some degree of conscience, albeit belatedly. The pressure from the opposition, which can ill afford to lose such an opportunity to disgrace the Modi government, has made the BJP to inform 'verbally' that Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the guilty MLA, has been 'expelled' from the party. Whether this 'expulsion' is well-intentioned or a mere act of showmanship. A face-saving device, is yet to be ascertained, but the way Priyanka was prevented from meeting the victim's family in order to prevent the truth from coming to light points to the latter. It may be added that the original crime was committed in 2017, but Mr Sengar continue ed to enjoy the confidence of the ruling party. That the great Yogi Adityanath tried to shield the rapist and killer is as clear as daylight. Had he possessed the least degree of sense of shame he would have resigned after such a furore. But being a Modi acolyte, he cannot do so. He has to go on using his power as an aggressive soldier of the Hindutva brigade.

The disclosure of the fact that the rape victim had earlier written to the CJI ostensibly embarrassed the latter, because he became afraid of a disgrace to his name. It is clear that the letter written to him was deliberately suppressed so as not to allow the victim to have the necessary protection. The way he has now reacted to the episode is commendable. In a class-divided society, justice is more often than not influenced by considerations of class, caste and similar other factors. Here the role of the apex court must be seen as an honourable exception. It is a common, not novel, feature of this great Indian democracy that big thieves, rapists, hooligans and other types of miscreants usually take shelter under the umbrella of the ruling party and its money power, and a legislator belonging to the party that rules both his state and the centre has a double advantage. He can enjoy a double protection and even if arrested, can guide criminals working at his behest. The police, barring exceptional cases, generally helps the criminals owing to the lure of bribes and fears of harassments. Here a repetition of this process is witnessed.

The process, however, has gone awry because the CJI has stood for justice. He has prudently shifted the place of trial and set a deadline. He has also ordered a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakhs to the victim's family and directed immediate security by the CRPF. A well-circulated English daily has publicised the event as 'Supreme slap in Yogi Face'. Apt characterization indeed.

Something must be said about the girl who, at the time of writing, is on ventilation at Lucknow's King George Medical University. She, despite the death of her father in police custody and continuous threats and intimidations, has displayed exemplary courage to defy all obstacles, risking her own life in the process. It is the duty of all well-meaning people, not politicians alone, to come forward to her help. On the other hand, the guilty ML A and his henchmen must be given exemplary punishment. Punishment must also be given to those policemen who aided and abetted the guilty. Mr. Yogi Adityanath should not also escape his share of punishment for his complicity.

The Unnao episode has drawn the attention of the educated public all over the country. While the die-hard supporters of the BJP are trying to downplay the significance of the episode by citing this or that example, the pessimistic people, who always wish to shun their responsibility, are prone to think that it is a passing predicament for Yogi Adityanath and his party. Of course, chances are there for such a thing to happen. But if the culprits and their helpers receive due punishment, the predicament will be a lasting one. 


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Vol. 52, No. 7, Aug 18 - 24, 2019