Unnao, Uttar Pradesh: A day after a 16-year-old tried to kill herself right outside Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home, accusing him of shielding a BJP lawmaker who had allegedly raped her, her father died in judicial custody. The 50-year-old man had been beaten up allegedly by the politician and his men last week.
The brutal assault left wounds and gashes all over his body, but he was the one arrested and placed in judicial custody on a complaint by his daughter's alleged rapists.
The lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, said today, "There are no charges against me. These are low level people trying to frame me."
Two police officers and four constables were suspended as the father's death triggered more anger. Four men accused of beating the girl's father have been arrested.
"The incident happened while the man was in judicial custody. A magisterial inquiry will be conducted. If there have been lapses by the police, action will be taken," Deputy Inspector General of Police Pravin Kumar said.
Yogi Adityanath, facing criticism for alleged police excesses and encounters since he took charge in last year, similarly said, "I have spoken to top police officers in Lucknow. Those found guilty will not be spared and the government will not show any leniency."
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who represents Unnao, rubbished any talk of his resignation. "Just because my name is being taken, should I resign? These allegations are all totally false. The family is trying to malign me. For a year, they have been running a campaign against me on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp," he said.
Calling the assault on the girl's father the result of a "divide within the family", the political leader said, "They are saying I carried out rape on June 4. They subsequently filed the other case on June 20. Why did they not disclose the June 4 incident then? There should be a high level inquiry".
The lawmaker said the family targetted him after his intervention in an earlier case, where the girl's mother accused three men of abducting and raping her daughter. Kuldeep Singh Sengar said he believes the men were innocent and were being framed.
The teen has alleged that she was raped by Sengar and his brother last year. Over a year later, the police have not taken any action
The girl claimed that her family was threatened after it tried to file an FIR or First Information Report.
Her father was allegedly thrashed by Sengar, his brother and their associates last Tuesday. He complained to the police, but ended up being arrested as the police acted on the lawmaker's complaint.
Yesterday, when he complained of abdominal pain, he was taken to the district hospital, where he died today.
"They told us he would be safe. But they had my father killed in custody," the girl's sister wept.
Before joining the ruling party, Sengar had stints with the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: "Beti Bachao, Khud Maare Jaao (save our daughters, get killed)."
In another tweet, former UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav criticised the "encounterwali" government of failing to ensure women's safety in the state. "The girl kept requesting security for the family. But nothing was done. Insensitivity is rampant in this state. This is murder," said Samajwadi Party spokesperson Juhi Singh.