In yet example of the impunity with which perpetrators intimidate and silence witnesses, a rape survivor from Unnao was set ablaze by a group of men who had raped her. Reports say that the rape accused and his friends took the woman outside her village, into the fields and doused her with petrol before setting her on fire.
The incident took place at Sindupur village under the Bihar Police station area on Thursday morning when she was on her way to Rai Bareilly for a hearing in the case. The victim has sustained 80% burns and has been admitted to the Trauma Center of the King George Medical University, Lucknow.
The accused are reported to be Shivam Trivedi, Shubham Trivedi, Harishankar Trivedi, Ramkishor Trivedi and Umesh Bajpayee. The police say that three of the men have been arrested and that the lookout for the other two is on. Out of the three accused, one is the man against who she had filed the rape charges in March this year.
SK Bhagat, senior police officer from Lucknow, told reporters , “In her FIR, the woman said that one of the two rape-accused was in relationship with her in 2018 but he physically exploited her, lured her with a marriage proposal. Later, he refused to get married and raped her with another friend.” While registering the rape charges, she had also alleged that the men had made a video about the incident. One of the accused had been arrested but got out after getting bail on November 30 and allegedly decided to take revenge.
The Asian Age reports that after she was set on fire, she ran for a while before eyewitnesses saw her and informed the police. The police then sent her to the Community Health Centre from where she was sent to the district Shyama Prasad Mukherjee hospital, before being referred to Lucknow.
Reactions are pouring in, will justice too?
The gravity of the incident has shaken up the political class of Uttar Pradesh. The Rajya Sabha was adjourned after the Congress wanted discussions on the incident. However, since the matter was not listen, Chairman of the House, N Venkaiah Naidu did not allow any discussion on the same. He later adjourned the House over the rising furore by the Opposition parties.
Republic World reported Sakshi Maharaj, Unnao MP and BJP leader as saying, “It is a very unfortunate incident and any amount on the condemnation is less. I had put in all my efforts when the rape case had occurred. The accused were sent to jail, not via Unnao, but Rae Bareli. They were granted bail a few days ago and today when the girl left her house at 4:30 AM, the accused had tried to kill her by setting her on fire. I hope that such accused should be hanged to death.”
The National Commission of Women too has taken suo-motu cognizance of the case and asked the UP police to take action on the same at the earliest.
— NCW (@NCWIndia) December 5, 2019
UP CM Yogi Adityanath has said that the treatment expenses will be borne by the government and strict action will be taken against the accused.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra too pulled up the UP government in her reaction. She tweeted that in the wake of such heinous crimes against women in UP, it was clear that the administration was lying of a good law and order situation in the state.
उन्नाव पीड़िता के स्वास्थ्य समाचार से मन आहत है। ईश्वर से प्रार्थना है कि पीड़िता जल्द स्वस्थ हो।
कल भाजपा सरकार का बयान था यूपी में सब ठीक है। आज एक बयान और आया। लेकिन क़ानून व्यवस्था के बारे में झूठी बयानबाज़ी व झूठा प्रचार करने की ज़िम्मेदारी CM और उप्र सरकार की ही है।#Unnao
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) December 5, 2019
Sharad Pawar too implored the state and central government to take immediate action in the matter.
Extremely shocked to hear that the girl who filed a rape complaint in #Unnao was set ablaze. The victim is battleing for her life. If the culprits were prosecuted in time this wouldn’t have happened. Home department of the central government should take immediate cognisance.
— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) December 5, 2019
Advocate and MP Majeed Memon too spoke about the matter. In his tweet he said –
Rape survivor in Unnao with 80% burn is struggling for life. She had made two complaints against the threat of rape earlier yet we couldnot protect her. Pathetic.
— Majeed Memon MP (@advmajeedmemon) December 5, 2019
Shama Mohamed, Congress member also spoke about the negligence of the police to provide any protection to the victim in such an important case.
Rape Survivor set ablaze in #Unnao
Despite the national spotlight on Unnao due to another high profile case, UP police have failed yet again to provide protection to the victim. Only politicians & criminals are protected in @myogiadityanath‘s UP!https://t.co/mZtjHfGbfj
— Shama Mohamed (@drshamamohd) December 5, 2019
The incident of this 23-year-old woman in Unnao has come close on the heels of the rape and murder of the veterinary doctor in Hyderabad which enraged the country. It has been noted that the state and central governments have also not implemented the Justice Verma Committee Report 2013 recommendations that list out guidelines for women’s safety and making public spaces safer for women.
The country is demanding higher convictions in cases of crimes and stricter sentences for the accused. Will the police, the judiciary and the government take notice of the increasing incidents of crime against women in the country or will it react after it’s too late?
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