Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI—Expressing serious concern over the death of a 24-year-old college girl and her friend after they set themselves ablaze outside the Supreme Court on August 16, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JIH) has demanded a court-monitored CBI probe into the whole issue.
JIH Vice-President Prof. Mohammad Salim Engineer said that the girl who was raped by BSP MP Atul Rai was seeking justice since 2019. “The woman had alleged that five police officers were protecting the accused MP, who was continuously harassing the victim. In March 2021, the woman had filed a plea in the Supreme Court, seeking transfer of her rape case for a fair trial from Allahabad to Delhi on grounds of her threat to her life. But in August, a local court in Varanasi issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against her in a case of forgery based on a complaint by the accused MP’s brother,” said Prof Salim.
Stating that “the root cause of growing anti-women violence is a delay in delivery of justice and escape of perpetrators from conviction”, Prof Salim said, “Growing frustration with the judicial system is extremely worrying and dangerous”.
“The nexus of the police administration, politicians and criminals are disappointing for the country,” he stated.
He called on the eminent citizens, social organizations and workers of the country to come forward to stop such immoral incidents.
Demanding a court-monitored CBI probe to ensure the victims get justice posthumously, he asked the government to give appropriate compensation to the family members of the victims as soon as possible.
“The government and the judiciary need to take appropriate steps to restore and maintain public confidence in the judicial system,” JIH vice-president suggested.
Before setting themselves on fire, the woman and her friend recorded a Facebook live in which the woman accused BSP MP from Ghosi – Atul Rai – of committing rape on her in 2019. She also accused the Uttar Pradesh police and judiciary of allegedly harassing her at the instance of the MP.
Both of them received severe burns. While the woman died on August 17, her friend, who was a student at Delhi University – succumbed to his injuries on August 21.
The woman told in her FIR that she came in contact with Rai when she was contesting student union elections. She met Rai as she wanted financial help. He called her to his flat in Varanasi on March 7, 2018, where he allegedly sexually assaulted her. She accused him of preparing her video and threatened to make it viral on social media if she complained against him.
But the woman approached the Lanka Police in Varanasi in April 2019 when the dates for filing nominations for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections had been announced.
However, the police registered the FIR on May 1, after Atul Rai had filed his nominations from the Ghosi Lok Sabha seat.
Rai remained absconding throughout the election campaign but he won by a margin of 1.22 lakhs against the sitting MP and BJP candidate Hari Narayan.
As Rai was absconding, the Varanasi police moved the court and obtained a non-bailable warrant against him on May 3. The police also got him declared as ‘absconder’.
Fearing his arrest, Rai moved the Allahabad High Court to seek anticipatory bail but the High Court rejected it.
Rai then moved to the Supreme Court. But a vacation bench of then Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Aniruddha Bose refused to give relief from arrest on May 27.
With Supreme Court refusing to grant anticipatory bail, BSP MP surrendered to the Lanka Police of Varanasi on June 22, 2019. Since then, he has been in jail.
However, MP’s brother Pawan Kumar filed a case of forgery against the woman in a Varanasi court in November 2020. Kumar accused the woman of forging her date of birth. In the court complaint, Kumar stated that while registering an FIR against a student leader in 2015, the girl had produced her high school mark sheet which mentioned her date of birth as March 10, 1997. But in the FIR against Rai, her high school mark sheet mentioned June 10, 1997, as her date of birth.
Her harassment began after this. On court order, the police registered an FIR against the woman and her associate under IPC sections 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 468 (purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).
The court on August 2 issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against the two on police request as police claimed that she was untraceable despite several raids.
Fearing that she would be arrested by the police under the influence of the MP, the woman and her male friend travelled to Delhi to highlight what she alleged was a collusion of the police and a judge of a Varanasi court. In a Facebook live from outside the Supreme Court, the woman accused the MP of using his influence to harass her. She also named several police officials, including former District Superintendent of Police Amit Pathak, and also a judge, alleging they had conspired against her.
In her Facebook Live, the woman alleged that the UP authorities were forcing her to die since November 2020. She said that she wanted the citizens of UP and the country to know about it.
“The step we are going to take is painful and frightening. We are also a little scared, but this fear is meaningless,” said her friend, minutes before setting themselves on fire after pouring kerosene over their bodies.
After the self-immolation bid, the UP government suspended Lanka Police Station House Officer Rakesh Singh and Sub-inspector Girija Shankar who was investigating the forgery case against the woman.