Rape of teen and 8-year-old shock India
NEW DELHI: India's federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yesterday took over an investigation into allegations that a state legislator from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party raped a teenager nine months ago, police said.
Opposition parties have already seized on the attack in India's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh in the north, which is ruled by a rising star of Mr Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The rape in the city of Unnao might never have seen the light of day, had the victim not tried to set fire to herself last week outside the residence of the chief minister in the state capital of Lucknow.
She was stopped by guards, but the suicide attempt brought to public attention her accusations against Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a longstanding member of the state legislature for the BJP.
Mr Ajay Pal Singh, the lawyer for Mr Sengar, said the allegations against the legislator were baseless and that investigations would prove his innocence.
"This case is a conspiracy to malign Sengar and disrupt his political career," Mr Singh told Reuters.
The country has also been shocked by the filing of charges this week in the state of Jammu and Kashmir alleging the abduction and rape of an eight-year-old Muslim girl in a Hindu-dominated area in January.
The state's chief minister said on Twitter yesterday that investigations were on "fast track & justice will be delivered".
India registered about 40,000 rape cases in 2016, according to latest available reports from the National Crime Records Bureau, compared with 25,000 cases in 2012. Rights activists say thousands of rapes go unreported because of the stigma.
How Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath handles the allegations against his party man is being dissected by national media, who are keen to see whether justice takes its course.
Mr Adityanath yesterday asked the CBI, equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the US, to take over the Unnao case, police said.
The rape victim told reporters at her residence that Mr Sengar should be arrested to prevent him from influencing the investigation.
Up until now, police had refused to investigate the victim's accusations, she said. - REUTERS