MLA from Modi’s BJP charged with rape of teenage girl in Unnao
NEW DELHI: An MLA from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was charged on Wednesday in connection with the rape of a teenage girl, a case that has embarrassed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government amid a spate of sexual violence that has stirred street protests.
Over 100 rapes are reported in India every day but the MLA’s case has strong political overtones with critics accusing the BJP in Uttar Pradesh of hindering judicial action against Kuldeep Singh Sengar.
Sengar was arrested in April in connection with the rape of the teenager in the city of Unnao, in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, a year after the attack allegedly took place.
With opposition groups joining protests and vigils in cities across India calling for tougher action, Uttar Pradesh authorities handed over the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
In a statement, the CBI said it had filed charges based on its inquiry into a complaint submitted by the teenager’s mother alleging that her daughter, a minor, was taken to the residence of the MLA by a local woman and raped there.
Sengar’s lawyer, R.K Singh, said in April his client was innocent and the case amounted to a conspiracy to harm his political career.
India registered about 40,000 rape cases in 2016, up from 25,000 in 2012, government data show. Rights activists say thousands more go unreported.