Unnao indictment ~ Indian Express Editorial

Unnao indictment ~ Indian Express Editorial

Editorial: A chilling sequence of events has played out in and around a village in Unnao district, Uttar Pradesh. About two years ago, a teenager was allegedly raped by the locally powerful four-term BJP MLA on the pretext of helping her get a job. Almost a year later, she tried to draw public attention to the alleged crime and to her accusations of continued police inaction by attempting to immolate herself in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow. Subsequently, her father was taken into custody in connection with an Arms Act case; he died in judicial custody. 

The case was transferred to the CBI, MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested, but, by all accounts, the repeated cries for help of the woman and her family and their allegations of police harrassment and intimidation by the accused and his henchmen went unaddressed, leading to her writing a letter to the chief justice of India earlier this month. Also this month, her uncle was convicted in a case filed by the accused’s brother. On Sunday, a collision of the vehicle she was travelling in with a truck bearing a blackened nameplate, which took the lives of two of her aunts, left her and her lawyer critically injured, battling for their lives. Now, after an FIR for murder and attempted murder is filed against Sengar and others, the BJP, the ruling party in UP and at the Centre, claims it suspended him long ago, but the impression is grim and inescapable: Of a law enforcement machinery that systematically hounds the victim, a powerful accused who is able to spread fear even from inside jail. And a political regime that, at the very least, turns a blind eye to horrific injustice.

Now both government and Opposition must ensure that the spotlight does not shift away from the case to the posturing around it. The outrage and furore will have served a purpose only if the law enforcement machinery, that has evidently been so effete in this case, is shamed into action. In particular, the BJP government in UP must know that it will be watched. The Yogi Adityanath regime, so far, has presided over a terribly mixed record on law and order. Even as it projects itself as strong and iron-fisted on crime and the criminal, it has invited persistent allegations that it favors the strong against the weak, the majority against the minority. Or, as it seems to be in Unnao, the rich and powerful against the poor and helpless.

Now both government and Opposition must ensure that the spotlight does not shift away from the case to the posturing around it. The outrage and furore will have served a purpose only if the law enforcement machinery, that has evidently been so effete in this case, is shamed into action. In particular, the BJP government in UP must know that it will be watched. The Yogi Adityanath regime, so far, has presided over a terribly mixed record on law and order. Even as it projects itself as strong and iron-fisted on crime and the criminal, it has invited persistent allegations that it favors the strong against the weak, the majority against the minority. Or, as it seems to be in Unnao, the rich and powerful against the poor and helpless.

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