The Many Crimes of Former MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar

Politics

The Many Crimes of Former MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar

Illustration: Aishwarya Nayak

Once again, former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar is in the news, but this time, the headlines aren’t infuriating. Sengar’s latest bout of notoriety comes thanks to a Delhi court sentencing him to 10 years in jail in the case of the custodial death of the father of the minor girl who accused Sengar of raping her. This verdict marks the second conviction for Sengar, who, in December last year, was also found guilty on the rape charge as well. Though the option of appealing before the higher courts is still open to Sengar, today’s ruling was a fitting downfall for the man, whose sordid story has unfolded in the national media over the past two years.

Sengar first came to national attention roughly two years ago, in April 2018, but the trouble started even before that. The year prior, a 17-year-old girl claimed she had visited Sengar’s residence in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, seeking work, but was raped by the then-BJP MLA. On 8 April, 2018, after failing to get authorities to register an FIR against the influential Sengar, the girl resorted to attempting self-immolation outside UP CM Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow. Sengar’s smiling face as he denied the allegations would become the general public’s first introduction to him.

A day after the girl’s protest, the list of crimes Sengar was accused of would grow one by one. The girl’s father died a suspicious death while in police custody, with injury marks on his body. Even after rape and homicide allegations were levelled against him and he was arrested, Sengar enjoyed continued membership of the BJP. Indeed, it would be weeks after the controversy erupted that the party would finally move to eject Sengar from its ranks.

Though the option of appealing before the higher courts is still open to Sengar, today’s ruling was a fitting downfall for Kuldeep Singh Sengar.

Even though Sengar was in jail, the number of victims in the Unnao rape-murder case would continue to climb. A few months after the girl’s father’s death, a key witness in the case of his death also died while being held in jail. And then, in July 2019, an apparent attempt was made on the rape survivor’s life, when their car was hit by a speeding truck with a blacked-out licence plate while travelling from Raebareli. She and her lawyer, who was accompanying her, were rushed to hospital in critical condition, while her two aunts were killed in the crash.

The news of today’s verdict felt like vindication for those who have been following the case for two years. The 10-year sentence handed to Sengar in the culpable homicide case is in addition to another verdict from December 20 last year, when courts sentenced Sengar to jail for “the remainder of his natural biological life” in the rape case. For once, despite powerful connections and friends in high places, a rapist has been made to face the consequences of his actions. But given the fact that he still has a chance to appeal, there’s a very grim possibility that this might not be the last we’ve seen of Kuldeep Singh Sengar.

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