Indian court found former lawmaker guilty of rape


Kuldeep Sengar, a former lawmaker from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been convicted and found guilty by a court. The 51-year-old was tried under child protection laws as the survivor was 17 when she was assaulted in 2017.

The former politician’s sentencing on Tuesday has been moved to December 20. He could be imprisoned for life.

This most high profile rape case in India first came to national attention last year when the woman tried to set herself on fire, alleging police inaction.

She was also seriously injured in a suspicious car crash in July.

While she survived, both her aunts, who had been travelling with her, died and her lawyer was seriously wounded.

The woman, who can’t be named under Indian laws, alleges that she had approached Sengar for a job in June 2017 – and she was kidnapped and raped for more than a week by him and others.

She said she registered a police complaint, but they initially did not name him as one of the accused. The police did register a case against him months later, but the woman alleges that they did not proceed with the investigation.

The BJP faced sharp criticism over the fact that Sengar had remained in the party despite the serious allegations against him – he was expelled only in August this year.

This was after the car crash which happened in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Sengar was a lawmaker from Unnao district.

The woman’s mother accused Sengar of orchestrating the accident – a charge he denied. The federal police are still investigating these allegations.

The family also accused Sengar’s brother, Atul Sengar, of assaulting the rape victim’s father in April 2018. The police charged five men for the attack but they also arrested her father on the charge of illegally possessing firearms. He later died in prison.

Days after this tragedy, she attempted to set herself on fire outside the home of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, alleging that she had been repeatedly thwarted in her pursuit of justice.

India’s federal investigation agency took over the case and arrested Atul and 10 others on charges of murder. He has not responded to the charges. The case is still ongoing.

Monday’s verdict comes in the wake of the gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad that made global headlines last month. (Source: BBC)