accused

The usual caveats in the case of an allegation against a politician do not apply here. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the son of a former gram pradhan in the Makhi village of Unnao and BSP-turned-SP-turned-BJP ‘leader’, is notorious in his constituency for his alleged involvement in hooliganism, extortion, sand mining mafia and more. His brother Atul Singh Sengar, arrested on Tuesday in connection with the death of a gang-rape victim’s father in judicial custody, and a band of hoodlums have been accomplices in the MLA’s heinous acts of crime, complain many inhabitants of the constituency. At the time of drafting of this editorial, Sirf News received reliable information from Uttar Pradesh Police that the MLA would be arrested any time soon. So far, little evidence has surfaced to suggest that the victim has been planted by a rival, as the MLA says in his defence. That his henchmen thrashed the father of the victim mercilessly, which killed the man in judicial custody, is near undeniable. And if the allegations were all to ring hollow, several policemen would not be suspended for dereliction of duty or, worse, complicity in the crime. It is equally doubtful that the girl would set herself afire in so serious a manner as to sustain 40% burn injuries if she were commissioned by the rivals of the accused.

But the menace the alleged rapist has been in the area that he virtually rules warrants such punitive actions against him that would set an example and serve as a deterrence for wannabe politicians from the fraternity of goons. If extraordinary punishment cannot be delivered by the courts, tied up as they are by laws made by the legislature, it can be ensured by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath by means of ensuring an end to his career in politics. Surely, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have advised him nothing less. But the BJP would not be enough. As seen in the record of the dubious character, the weathercock is at home party-hopping. Therefore, Akhilesh Yadav must not open the doors for Sengar into the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati ought not welcome her back to the BSP. It is to be further ensured that the Sengars not in the clutches of law — and their gang of criminals — do not run his ‘kingdom’ via proxy, as is witnessed often in the cases of dreaded goon-politicians serving jail sentences in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The single biggest reason, greater than Lohiaite socialism, which has kept Uttar Pradesh backward is the State’s infestation with criminals driven by a prevailing mindset of feudalism, wherein wielding power by flaunting an entourage of musclemen is an accepted signature of a leader who must claim he has arrived. With such dreadful people guarding citizens’ rights, news of a politician raping a hapless woman after luring her with the prospect of a job or threatening her family with dire consequences has not made headlines for the first time. It is that shameful, decadent core of the local society that Yogi must strike. No mean task this!

As a preventive measure, believing that Yogi Adityanath is serious about fighting crime based on the spate of encounters and voluntary surrenders one has noticed in Uttar Pradesh for the past few months, the BJP must stop entertaining the mass exodus of former BSP and SP netas to its fold. The latest haul was seen on 9 April, with 28 turncoats joining the ruling party. The BJP seems to have thrown all caution to the winds while prioritising becoming an invincible power. A similar haste to turn ‘big’ was noticed at the time of the crazy membership drive some years ago to become the world’s largest political organisation. What Modi and Shah would do with 11 crore people is not the question. Given the hole-ridden mechanism of that drive, how can the party be sure many a Sengar has not entered it? How are they sanguine no rival has planted anti-social elements worse than a Sengar in the organisation to bring some ignominy to the central government that has so far spared the people the horror of rampant corruption by ministers? As of now, guaranteeing justice for the gang-rape victim is the foremost work of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh. Right thereafter, the party ruling in a majority of States must launch a cleansing operation to rid itself of bad blood. On this occasion in history, not for any ideological but for practical reasons, the BJP must prove it is a “party with a difference” rather than a “Congress with a saffron tinge” (both happen to be coinages by the party rather than epithets imposed by its detractors).

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