Why Unnao Rape Survivor Had No Security Detail on Day of Accident
The family feared the security detail to be consorting with Sengar and were financially strained...
One of the Unnao rape survivor’s aunts, who lost her life in the car accident on 28 July in Raebareli, used to walk a minimum of six km whenever she went to meet the lawyers because she could not afford much else.
“To save Rs 25 one way, she would be seen hurtling a two km walk from their home in Unnao to the local railway station. She would then take a Rs 5 ticket and wait patiently for a train on an empty platform, alight it one station away at the Unnao junction, and walk another km to the court complex to meet her lawyers,” recounts advocate Ajendra Awasthi, who has known the survivor’s family for about two decades.
Days after the accident, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led UP government expelled the rape accused MLA Kuldeep Sengar from the Party. The government further expelled three police officials, two of them women, who were responsible for the survivor’s security while she travelled. The police said that the survivor’s security detail was asked not to accompany the family since there was a paucity of space in their car.
Why Was the Family on Its Way to Raebareli?
28 July was a Sunday, a day on which the survivor was allowed to meet her uncle, who is in a Raebareli jail, 120 km away. On 4 July, he had been convicted in an attempted murder case from two decades ago. The case had been filed by Sengar’s brother, Atul Shah, indicative of the long-standing enmity between both the families even before the alleged rape in 2017.
“They would go to meet their uncle on Sundays. It was becoming a ritual. After the father died, he had stepped up and taken stock of the entire family. He was the point person for the media as well. So, after he was locked up earlier in July, the family felt the vacuum of his regular counsel,” villager Srikant* told The Quint.
The villagers saw them get ready and leave. They noticed the car as well, a Swift Dzire which belonged to the lawyer, who resided in the same village as them, and is currently battling for his life in Lucknow’s KGMU hospital.
His colleague, advocate Awasthi, told The Quint, “I used to tell him to not ever travel with the client. Be in a car ahead or behind them but never with them. But he was friends with the uncle in jail and was well aware of their financial situation so he offered. They could not afford travelling themselves.”
While the gunner and senior police officials say that they were asked to not accompany the family, the family had other concerns regarding private details.
‘Police Personnel Informed on Them to Sengar’
In the complaint filed by the survivor’s uncle a day after the accident, he categorically said that the police personnel in charge of her security used to inform the jailed Sengar of her movements.
The villagers say that when the uncle had been around, he kept a check on the police officials, and ensured they were not in cahoots with Sengar. “Now imagine all of them men and these are women. They would not interact as much anymore. The discomfort was very obvious,” he said.
Awasthi says that given the repeated threats the family was receiving, the police protection they had been granted didn’t seem to be of much use. “They were always under a lot of stress. Even in the letter written to the CJI, by the rape survivor, aunt and mother, they’ve said how they were repeatedly threatened. Now imagine there are policemen stationed right outside your home as well as traveling with you, but despite that these threats are mounting,” he said.
Awasthi said that the uncle’s arrest had led to more intimidation. “They were doing all they could but at the same time they were distrustful of the police too.”
It is completely possible they didn’t see a point in the security or even felt that they were ‘bought’ by the other side, he says. “The main rape accused is eventually a BJP MLA. Don’t make me say more.”
The villagers told us that the strength of the police personnel was hardly full. “The gunner was not around always I know that, but yes they were men in uniform stationed outside their home,” Ajeet says.
Living on a Shoestring
It stands to reason that the family didn’t want the gunner travelling with them: it required not only space in the car, or renting another car, but also the added expenditure of his meals, which the family could not afford. “Taking him along was not a they would try and save Rs 25 one way every time they came to meet me,” Awasthi said.
The rape survivor’s mother used to sell cow dung for a living (‘upla kande bechti thi’). The family couldn’t bear the financial burden of catering for the personnel’s food and stay.
Awasthi recounts fights erupting at the house over seemingly trifling matters. He told us about the uncle returning home from court hearings and giving the family his clothes to wash. “There was only one cloth bag in the house which they religiously used for this purpose. But one day one of the ladies had used it for something else leading to a big fight in front of me. This was about one cloth bag and they got so emotional and angry,” he recounts.
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