Indian court hands life term to ex-BJP legislator for raping teen

Sengar, expelled by the BJP earlier this year, was convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Sengar is the highest-ranking Indian politician to get such a significant jail term in recent years [File: Pawan Kumar/Reuters]
Sengar is the highest-ranking Indian politician to get such a significant jail term in recent years [File: Pawan Kumar/Reuters]

A court in India has sentenced a former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator to life imprisonment for raping a teenager in Unnao in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, his lawyer said on Friday.

Kuldeep Singh Sengar is the highest-ranking Indian politician to get such a significant jail term in recent years in a country where convictions for sexual violence are low and cases drag on in courts for long.

Sengar, who was expelled by the BJP, was convicted on Monday under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. He had pleaded not guilty.

The court also fined him 2.5 million rupees ($35,000), Sengar’s lawyer Tanveer Ahmad Mir said.

“He got his punishment. I am very happy … Today we got justice,” the India Today television network quoted the woman’s sister as saying.

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The case gained nationwide attention last year when the accuser, who was a teenager in 2017 when raped, tried to kill herself, accusing the police of inaction.

In July, a truck crashed into the car of the survivor, killing two of  her aunts and wounding her critically. One of the aunts killed in the crash was a witness in the rape case against Sengar.

Since then, the victim’s family has been provided with security.

Having faced criticism for failing to act swiftly against the politician, Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s BJP expelled him from the party in August.

Public anger has been mounting in India over sexual violence against women and the lack of speedy justice for a majority of victims.

Earlier this month, a rape survivor from Unnao town in Uttar Pradesh state was set on fire by her alleged attackers while she was on her way to testify in the gang-rape case in a local court.

The attack took place days after the brutal rape and murder of a veterinarian in Hyderabad city in southern India.

More than 33,000 rape cases were reported – on average about 90 rapes a day – in India in 2017, according to official figures released by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Source : News Agencies

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