Former BJP lawmaker gets life in prison for rape

A former lawmaker from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been sentenced to life in jail in one of the year’s most high-profile rape cases.

A trial court also ordered Kuldeep Sengar, 51, to pay 2.5mn rupees ($35,135;£27,000) as compensation.

Sengar was tried under child protection laws as the survivor was 17 when she was assaulted in 2017.

The case came to national attention last year when the woman tried to kill herself, alleging police inaction.

The court in the capital Delhi found Sengar guilty earlier this week.

The woman, who can’t be named under Indian laws, was seriously injured in a suspicious car crash in July. While she survived, both her aunts, who had been travelling with her, died and her lawyer was seriously injured.

The woman’s mother accused Sengar of orchestrating the accident – a charge he denied. The federal police are still investigating these allegations.

The woman alleges that she had approached Sengar for a job in June 2017 – and she was kidnapped and raped for more than a week by him and others.

She said she registered a police complaint, but they initially did not name him as one of the accused. The police did register a case against him months later, but the woman alleges that they did not proceed with the investigation.

The BJP came in for sharp criticism over the fact that Sengar had remained in the party despite the serious allegations against him – he was expelled only in August this year.

This was after the crash which happened in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where Sengar was a lawmaker from Unnao district.

The family also accused Sengar’s brother, Atul Sengar, of assaulting the woman’s father in April 2018. The police charged five men for the attack but they also arrested her father on the charge of illegally possessing firearms. He died later in prison.

Days later, she attempted to set herself on fire outside the home of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, alleging that she had been repeatedly thwarted in her pursuit of justice.

India’s federal investigation agency took over the case and arrested Atul Sengar and 10 others on charges of murder. The case is still ongoing. Atul Sengar has not responded to the charges.

The verdict against Sengar came in the wake of the gang-rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in the southern city of Hyderabad that made global headlines last month.

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