Lucknow: Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the BJP lawmaker arrested on rape charges only after the high court's stinging indictment of the state police, was today ordered to spend the next seven days in custody of the Central Bureau of Investigation, or CBI.
The legislator was arrested by the agency on a charge of raping a 16-year-old girl last year. That move finally had come within hours of the Allahabad High Court lashing out at the Yogi Adityanath government for its "appalling" approach in dealing with the teenager's complaint. The court also ensured that investigators do not come under pressure again. It will monitor the probe.
The sharp message from the judiciary has kept the CBI on its toes through the day.
Around the same time that a special court gave CBI officers 7 days custody of the legislator, CBI officers confirmed that they would catch other suspects as well.
Shashi Singh, the woman alleged to have taken the teenager to the legislator in June last year on the pretext of getting her a job, was arrested soon after.
A few hours earlier, the CBI had taken the girl to the hospital for her medical examination.
According to police procedures, the medical examination is the first step that is taken when a complaint of rape is received.
But when the teenager first sent the police complaint last year, the police did not take any action.
The girl had tried to get a case registered against Kuldeep Singh Sengar for nearly nine months. She wasn't successful but didn't let go of the case. Earlier this month, her father was thrashed and sent to jail by the police, allegedly on trumped-up charges. He died a few days later, reportedly due to the assault.
The case made headlines when she attempted suicide outside Yogi Adityanath's house but the police registered a case against the lawmaker only when a decision was taken to transfer the probe to the CBI. When the High Court asked, the state government's top law officer insisted that there was no sufficient evidence to arrest the BJP legislator.
The high court order is also seen to expose how the administration had been trying to shield the lawmaker on this pretext.
"We specifically asked learned Advocate General as to whether such procedure is being followed by the Investigating Agency in the State of Uttar Pradesh in all such cases, he could not reply our query," the two-judge bench said.
All this week, Kuldeep Singh Sengar has strutted around denying the accusation, disparaging the girl and her family and hitting out at the media in the Unnao rape case. During that time, his brother Atul Singh was arrested for a brutal assault on the girl's father, who was not just arrested with severe wounds on his body but who died last week in custody.
On Wednesday night, Sengar made a dramatic appearance outside the house of the police chief in Lucknow, in a convoy of 20 vehicles. "I have come here because TV channels were saying I will surrender," he appeared to taunt reporters, insisting that he was neither a fugitive nor a rapist.