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Yeh Jo India Hai Na | 60 Days To 'Find' BHU Accused. What Held UP Police Back?

The question is – did this 'evidence’ of the political clout of the accused slow down the UP police’s hunt for them?

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Why did the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police take 60 days to locate Kunal Pandey, Saksham Patel, and Abhishek Chauhan, the three accused in the BHU Gangrape case?

Was their alleged crime not serious or heinous enough? On the night between 1 and 2 November 2023, they were accused of groping, disrobing, and gangraping a student of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) student on campus, barely 500 metres from her hostel. The horror didn't stop at that. They even allegedly took pictures and made videos of the assault meted out to her.

Even as massive student protests erupted at BHU against the crime and the lack of women's safety on campus the very next day, why was it essentially ignored and boiled down to just lip service?

Was it because the three accused men were members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP's) Varanasi IT cell? Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own Lok Sabha constituency?
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Perpetrators With Political Clout

Were they 'protected’ for 60 days? The BJP says it has expelled them now. Those heading the BJP’s Varanasi IT cell have also asserted that the unit itself had been 'dissolved’ in September 2023 (let alone that it remains unverified as another statement says in November), and so the trio no longer had real duties there.

But this hair-splitting and awkward 'distancing’ where the party shakes off all responsibility of the accused simply looks sloppy, and is just too little, too late, isn’t it? Especially when their social media posts seem replete with pictures of them rubbing shoulders with the party's top brass – including PM Modi himself, and also UP CM Adityanath, BJP President JP Nadda, even Smriti Irani, who, ironically is India’s former Women and Child Development Minister.

These top leaders may not have known these men personally. Given, they do have thousands of pictures clicked with party workers and office-bearers. But they do know how these pictures are used.

Ground-level party leaders and office-bearers post and share these pictures on social media, play them up on the walls of their homes and offices, with a clear message  – Dekh lo, hum kaise bade-bade neta logon ko jaante hain (take a look, these are the ‘big netas’ we know).

The question is – did this 'evidence’ of their political clout – slow down UP police’s hunt for them?

For instance, the police says their faces were not clearly visible in the night-time CCTV footage. But the cops did soon identify the motorcycle that the trio used. Does it really take 60 days to find the owners of a two-wheeler vehicle?

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Whose Backing Did the Criminals Have?

It leads us to another question – if the accused were really innocent – why were they ‘missing’? Were they tipped off, to 'disappear’? And if so, who were behind this? And if this is the case, it suggests that the three accused had perhaps been identified a lot earlier. And so, we ask again: why were they arrested only on 31 December 2023?

There is also this viral tweet posted by a certain Himanshu Jaiswal which shows Kunal Pandey and Saksham Patel, attending a meeting of the BJP’s Varanasi IT Cell and Social Media teams on 24 December. Yes, the same IT Cell with which, as per the BJP’s official statement, they had nothing to do with since September or November.

While it’s a bit embarrassing for the BJP, it should pinch the UP police more.
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Is the UP Police Complicit?

Two accused in a heinous crime, high up on 'Varanasi’s Most Wanted’ list who attend a party meeting in broad daylight, and the police didn't know. Clearly, the police just wasn't looking for them, hard enough.

And then, after the arrest, why were the accused only taken into judicial custody? Why didn’t the UP cops seek custody, which is a must after any heinous crime? The immediate and detailed questioning of the accused often leads to more crucial evidence. But shockingly, this has not been done. And so, we need to ask – are the accused still being 'shielded’?

We must also ask why the police has not yet held a press conference. Are they not keen to answer the many tough questions that surround the case?
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The Claws of 'Selective' Bulldozer Justice

There are many crucial questions regarding the investigation, that the media does not have clarity on. For instance, was crucial evidence in the form of body fluids, tissue, fibres – carefully and professionally secured from the survivor’s body, and from her clothes? Was this done immediately after the alleged crime, or was precious time wasted there as well?

Let’s remember that without such crucial evidence, the accused may ultimately walk free.

Finally, what about Uttar Pradesh’s patent extra-judicial 'bulldozer justice’?

This author is against any form of government-sanctioned 'mob justice’, and CM Adityanath’s government has not just employed bulldozers and razed people’s homes, it has also been 'selective’ in picking homes to demolish.

Muslims have been targeted the most. And so, this time around, the Opposition is right in asking – will Adityanath stand by his statement and demolish the homes of these former BJP men?

It seems unlikely, because… 

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… yahan kanoon ke lambe haath bhi kabhi kabhi chote reh jaate hain.

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Topics:  Narendra Modi   Women's Safety   UP Police 

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