Storm escalates over Unnao victim‘s crash

New Delhi: The Unnao rape survivor’s near-fatal road accident in UP resonated in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, with the Opposition parties led by the Congress and the DMK launching vociferous protests. They sought a response from the Union home minister on the incident and also demanded severe punishment for the guilty, shouting slogans in the Well of the House.

The Centre on Tuesday evening handed over the probe into the road accident involving the Unnao rape survivor over to the CBI, issuing an official order to that effect.

In Parliament, after protesting for almost an hour, the Opposition MPs staged a walkout from the Lower House. The protests started soon after the House assembled for the day. As several Opposition members, including from Congress, DMK, BSP and Trinamul Congress, entered the Well, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Choudhury raised the incident and sought the Speaker’s protection, saying they wanted to bring the incident to the attention of the House and the nation, as it had “shamed” the whole country.

Amid the ruckus, the BJP, including Union ministers, said the UP government was taking steps to ensure justice for the girl and her family and urged the Opposition not to politicise the matter.

While parliamentary affairs minister Prahlad Joshi said the issue was sensitive and should not be politicised, minister of state for rural development Niranjana Jyoti and BJP MP from Domariaganj Jagdambika Pal started blaming the Samajwadi Party for the incident, alleging the driver and owner of the truck which hit the survivor’s car belonged to that party.

Over 30 members, mostly from the Congress, were in the Well for nearly 40 minutes and were heard shouting “we want justice”. Mr Chowdhury said it was shameful and demanded that adequate security should be provided to the victim’s family. He also made it clear that there was no intention to politicise the case.

The parliamentary affairs minister said the state government was doing everything to ensure justice.

While he gave an opportunity for members to speak on the matter, Speaker Om Birla also told them that issues related to the states should not be raised in the House as the Opposition continued with their protests.

BJP member Meenakshi Lekhi, who was in the Speaker’s Chair, asked the Opposition to be constructive and said the CBI is already probing the case. She told Mr Chowdhury they were indulging in politics on the issue.

“Whatever is the truth, it will come out,” she said, urging the protesting members to go back to their seats.

On Monday, the UP police filed a murder case against BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and nine others after a complaint by the Unnao rape survivor’s family, alleging “conspiracy” behind Sunday’s car crash where the victim was severely hurt and two of her family members killed.

A woman in Unnao had alleged that Sengar, a four-time MLA who represents Bangermau in the UP Assembly, raped her teenage daughter at his residence in 2017. The case had come to light after the girl allegedly attempted self-immolation outside Yogi Adityanath’s residence.

Sengar, an accused in the rape case, was arrested in April 2018.

Amid growing pressure on the BJP to sack Sengar, the party said Tuesday the rape accused MLA had been suspended earlier, and there is no change in his status.

“There is no change in the position of the party and the government, which is standing with the victim of the Unnao (rape) case,” said party’s UP chief Swatantra Dev Singh.

Meanwhile, AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday stepped up her attack on the BJP over the incident, and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to divest the accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brother of the political power given to them.

Priyanka Gandhi also asked why people like Sengar are given the “protection of political power”, while their victims are abandoned to battle for their lives alone.

“For God’s sake, Mr Prime Minister, divest this criminal and his brother of the political power your party is giving them. It’s still not too late,” she said in a tweet.

“Why do we give people like Kuldeep Sengar the strength and protection of political power and abandon their victims to battle for their lives alone?” she said in another tweet.

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