Two years ago, on June 11, 2017, a young 17-year-old girl from Uttar Pradesh went missing. Nine days after her family filed a missing person complaint, the young girl escaped and alleged that she was gang-raped for a week by MLA Kuldeep, his brother Atul Singh, and their accomplices.
Since that day in June 2017, for two years, the Unnao rape survivor has battled multiple tragedies in her traumatic fight for justice. And yet, justice eluded her at every step, even as the battles she faced become graver.
As soon as she was discovered, she alleged that she was kidnapped and gang-raped, on the pretext of being provided a job. However, the local police refused to name BJP MLA Sengar – one of the prime accused – in the FIR.
Consequently, for months, the survivor wrote to the chief minister’s office, but to no avail. Ultimately, the survivor’s mother approached the Chief Judicial Magistrate to get an FIR registered against the MLA. Throughout this time, the family alleged that they were continuously threatened by the Sengar family.
On April 03, 2018, nearly 10 months after the tragic incident, the survivor’s father was assaulted in broad daylight by Atul Singh, brother of Kuldeep Sengar, and others.
Videos of him being tied to a tree and mercilessly beaten, till he fell unconscious, even circulated on the internet. Yet, the FIR registered did not name Atul Singh as an assailant – despite the fact that the survivor’s father specifically named Atul Singh as the person who assaulted him.
Just one day after the incident, on April 04, in an unexpected twist of circumstance, the survivor’s father was arrested on charges of illegal possession of firearms. The family feared that he might not survive in custody. Moreover, the doctors refused to admit him, despite his severe injuries.
Exasperated and disheartened at the turn of events, and the apparent lack of justice, the survivor and her family self-immolated themselves in front of UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s Lucknow residence.
Indian Express reported that the survivor claimed that unless arrests were made, she’d kill herself.
I was raped. I have been running pillar to post for the last one year but no one is listening to me. I want to see all of them arrested, otherwise I will kill myself. I had even approached the CM to no result. When we lodged an FIR, we were threatened.
Lucknow: A woman & her family allegedly attempted suicide outside CM Residence. Her family alleges the woman was raped by a BJP MLA & his accomplices & no action is being taken. pic.twitter.com/Srl5yQqhXP— ANI UP (@ANINewsUP) April 8, 2018
Shortly after, the survivor’s father died in police custody – even as the police denied accusations of torture. However, the post-mortem report stated the cause of death as ‘blood poisoning due to perforation of colon’, and also listed the multiple injuries he bore.
The incident was met by widespread outrage that finally forced the authorities into action. On April 10, Atul Singh – accused of both the rape and the assault on the survivor’s father – was arrested, along with four other people. On April 11, the government ordered a special investigation team to be formed to probe the case.
On the pretext of ‘protection’, the survivor and her family were confined to a hotel room, without water or electricity. Finally, on April 12, a case was registered against MLA Sengar, and the case was transferred to the CBI. A day later, MLA Sengar was taken in for questioning and arrested later in the day.
A second accused, Shashi Singh – who allegedly lured the survivor and ‘stood guard’ as she was raped – was also arrested by the CBI on April 15.
Ten days after MLA Sengar was arrested, Unnao residents carried out rallies in his support, with placards stating ‘Humara vidhayak nirdosh hai’. A month after the initial arrest, on May 11, 2018, in an official press release, the CBI stated that the investigation was ongoing and no conclusion had been achieved so far.
In July – almost a year after the incident originally took place – the CBI charged Kuldeep Sengar and Shashi Singh in the rape case. CBI also charged Atul Singh, and four other people, in the murder of the survivor’s father.
On August 18, Yunus, a key witness in the murder of the survivor’s father, was found dead under suspicious circumstances.
In December 2018, an FIR was registered against the survivor and her family for submitting forged documents as proof that she was a minor during the rape.
On July 04, 2019, the survivor’s uncle was sentenced to ten years in jail for a two-decade-old attempt to murder case filed by Atul Singh.
On July 28, two years after the incident took place, the survivor’s car was hit by an empty truck. The registration plate of the truck was covered in grease. The survivor and her lawyer suffered severe injuries and two of her aunts died in the accident.
The condition of the survivor and her lawyer remain critical, and the survivor’s mother claimed the accident to be a ‘conspiracy’. The UP government stated that it’s willing to handover the accident’s investigation to the CBI, and MLA Sengar – along with nine others – were booked for murder.
On July 30, a protest tooks place at India Gate in Delhi, where people gathered with placards stating, ‘tum akeli nahin ho’ in support of the survivor.