In­dian po­lit­i­cal leader con­victed of rape

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

New Delhi, In­dia - A for­mer rul­ing party law­maker was con­victed on Mon­day of rap­ing a teenager in a high-pro­file case that un­der­scored In­dia’s ram­pant sex­ual vi­o­lence and the im­punity en­joyed by the elite.

Kuldeep Singh Sen­gar, a pow­er­ful four-time state leg­is­la­tor for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was found guilty of rap­ing the then 17 year old at his home in Ut­tar Pradesh in 2017, lawyers said.

Sen­tenc­ing will be an­nounced later this week.

The ver­dict came amid re­newed public anger about sex­ual as­saults in In­dia and the fail­ures of the over­loaded crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem in tack­ling such crimes.

Early this month, four rape­mur­der sus­pects were killed in what po­lice claimed was a ‘shootout’ in the south­ern city of Hy­der­abad, and a woman died af­ter her al­leged at­tack­ers set her on fire en route to a court in Ut­tar Pradesh state.

It also falls on the an­niver­sary of the bru­tal 2012 gan­grape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi that trig­gered na­tion­wide protests and in­ter­na­tional out­rage.

Sen­gar, who was ex­pelled from Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi’s BJP in Au­gust, broke down in tears as the ver­dict was an­nounced in the dis­trict court in New Delhi.

Judge Dharmesh Sharma said the ‘un­shaken tes­ti­mony’ of the vic­tim and ‘suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence’ had proved Sen­gar’s guilt.

“I found her state­ment truth­ful and un­blem­ished that she was sex­u­ally as­saulted,” the judge said in the ver­dict.

The case was heard from Au­gust 5 af­ter the Supreme Court or­dered the trial be moved to Delhi from Ut­tar Pradesh, where the politi­cian en­joyed con­sid­er­able clout.

The vic­tim’s fa­ther died last year in po­lice cus­tody af­ter be­ing ac­cused of keep­ing firearms il­le­gally, with the fam­ily al­leg­ing he was ar­rested and tor­tured by po­lice for try­ing to pur­sue the case.

The woman was also crit­i­cally in­jured in a sus­pi­cious car crash in July. A sep­a­rate trial is be­ing held over the ac­ci­dent amid al­le­ga­tions it was a hit car­ried out on Sen­gar’s or­ders.

Kuldeep Singh Sen­gar

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