Archives  >  2019  >  July  >  29th

Unnao Horrors

1. What’s the story?

The unknown survivor of the Unnao rape case was critically injured on Sunday when the car she was travelling in was hit by a truck on NH 232. The survivor’s lawyer and another key witness perished on the spot, while her mother sustained grave injuries as well. Police seized the truck in question, though its driver had already fled the scene.

Tell me more.
Back in June 2017, a 17-year-old girl from Unnao (a small town near Lucknow) had alleged that she had been raped by prominent BJP MLA, Kuldeep Sengar. A chargesheet from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had followed. A few days after these allegations, the girl was abducted and assaulted again. She was recovered from a nearby village after several days.

In April the following year, the survivor’s mother moved to the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, alleging police harassment among other myriad complaints. However, on the day of the hearing in Unnao, the girl’s father was supposedly beaten up by Sengar’s brother, Atul Sengar, and his associates. In a strange twist of justice, the father was then handed over to the police amidst allegations of illegal possession of firearms. He eventually succumbed to his injuries in the district hospital.

The girl then set herself on fire in front of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s office, demanding the registration of an FIR against the accused. Eventually, though, a magisterial probe was ordered regarding the case.

In another legal twist in December last year, an FIR was lodged against the survivor, her mother, and her uncle for falsely claiming to be a minor during the time of her alleged rape. “The FIR was registered at Unnao’s Makhi police station on December 23. The order came from a local court, based on a petition filed by Haripal Singh. Singh’s wife Shashi and son Shubham are accused in the rape case and have been in jail since April along with the main accused Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar…”
So, what next?
“Security was provided to the survivor and family after the rape incident. They used to trail the survivor everywhere. Our information suggests the security wasn’t with them today, it seems they refused it. A probe has still been ordered as to why didn’t designated security not accompany them,” senior police officer MP Verma said. The truck had allegedly had its number plate scoured with black paint, which will make its owners difficult to trace.

Further updates are awaited from the Lucknow hospital where the injured have been admitted. (Fingers crossed, y’all.)

2. Where else should I be looking at?

Uttar Pradesh, that’s where. The state has been in the news recently for its unprecedented love and devotion for kaanwariyas, a group of Hindu pilgrims. “Kaanwariyas are pilgrims who offer the holy water from river Ganga to Lord Shiva by walking several miles in the Shraavana month of the Hindu calendar.” However, they have also often courted attention for being rowdy and causing massive traffic snarls on state highways.

“A couple of days ago, Shamli Superintendent of Police (SP) Ajay Kumar Pandey gave a foot massage to a Kaanwariya and its video went viral on social media, inviting mixed responses. When asked about this act and the obligations for men in uniform under the service rules, Pandey said, “I have not committed any crime and was just trying to help an exhausted pilgrim who has walked several kilometers to offer the holy water.”

“I had gone there for the inauguration of a camp meant for the kanwariyas, where I saw the boy who was tired. This should not be seen from a narrow mindset as the canvas of policing in the present time is very large,” Kumar said in his defence.”

3. What more?

Johnson & Johnson is allegedly taking its Indian customers for a ride. The cutting-edge Pinnacle hip implants by the Pharma giant have always been controversial. When its defects became public knowledge in 2011, the company had assured the Indian Government that it was absolutely safe for patients to use. That reassurance, however, was quite misleading, and things now have taken a turn for the worse.

“On May 7, Johnson & Johnson agreed in a Texas court to shell out $1 billion to settle about 6,000 lawsuits filed against the global pharma giant by patients in the US who used its “defective” Pinnacle hip implants for 10 years from 2003 to 2013 before the product was withdrawn.

In India, the contrast is stark. Here, J&J is fighting a government order asking it to pay Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore to patients who used its faulty ASR hip implants, a product that came after Pinnacle. And on Pinnacle itself, there is deafening silence.”

4. Anything else?

Mumbai’s beloved mangrove forests are in grave danger. And one fifty-six-year-old is not having it. Here is the story of one woman’s dogged campaign to protect her city.

5. Is that all?

India recently launched its unmanned mission to the moon, with a long-term goal of sending human beings to space. The international space research community, however, currently sees no value in sending manned missions to the moon. “From 1969 to 1972, 12 men walked on the moon. Four of them are still alive. No one has been back since, and it’s unclear when anyone might return.” An era is coming to an end in NASA

6. Before you leave …

Take a look at how protests in Hong Kong have reached a fevered pitch, with riot police firing tear gas at protestors for the second consecutive day. (Six Things covered these protests earlier here and here.)

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