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India: BJP politician convicted of raping teen

December 16, 2019

Kuldeep Sengar was found guilty of assaulting the then-16-year-old victim. The girl's family has accused local police of inaction, and the murder of the victim's aunts this summer has been tied to Sengar.

Kuldeep Singh Sengar
Image: Imago/Hindustan Times

Indian media reported on Monday that a former state lawmaker from the ruling Hindu nationalist BJP party has been found guilty of raping an underage girl in 2017. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, an ex-legislator in India's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, is set to be sentenced later this week.

According to the Hindustan Times daily, Sengar attacked the then 16-year-old when she approached his office looking for a job. The girl and her father found it difficult to get local police to act, as the accused was an influential politician. Sengar's brother then assaulted the father, who was also jailed for alleged firearm possession in April 2018.

It was only when the girl attempted suicide that the public outrage against Sengar became too loud for law enforcement to ignore that the process was started to bring him to trial.

Victims' aunts allegedly murdered

Last summer, the victim's two aunts were killed while bringing the girl to a hearing for a related case. The victim survived the incident in which a truck rammed into their car. A murder investigation is underway, with local media reporting that it is believed the act was carried out on Sengar's insistence. He was kicked out of the BJP party shortly after. 

"A tirade was unleashed upon the girl and her family members... where imprints of the accused Sengar were quite visible," the presiding judge said.

India has one of the highest rates of violence against women in the world, and research from the Thomson Reuters Foundation shows it is the most dangerous country on earth for sexual violence against women. Recently, in Unnao, the same area of Uttar Pradesh where Sengar attacked his victim, a girl was set on fire by a group of five men, two of whom were accused of raping her, while she was on her way to court. She survived but sustained severe burns.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.