Questions over India teen rape victim’s car crash

The accidentImage copyright Anubhav Yadav
Image caption Two women relatives of the girl died in the crash on Sunday afternoon

A teenager who accused a ruling party lawmaker of rape in 2017 has been seriously injured in a road accident in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The 19-year-old was travelling with her lawyer and two relatives when their car was hit by a lorry on a state highway.

The two female relatives of the girl have died and her lawyer is also in hospital with serious injuries.

The girl’s mother has alleged foul play, saying that the collision was not an accident and demanding justice.

The family want police to open a murder investigation against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar, who is accused of raping the teenager. Police this afternoon, registered a complaint naming him and 10 others in connection with Sunday’s incident.

Mr Sengar has been in custody for more than a year on accusations of raping the teenager. He denies the charges.

He has been charged under India’s stringent child protection laws since the teenager was a minor when she was attacked.

Local police officer Rakesh Singh told BBC Hindi that the truck driver and owner of the vehicle have been arrested and taken in for questioning. Some reports suggest the vehicle’s registration plate was smeared with black paint.

Image copyright Anubhav Yadav
Image caption The registration plates of the truck had been smeared with black paint

Police told NDTV that while they were still investigating the matter, at the moment they were treating it as an accident.

But opposition parties in the state have called for a federal investigation into the incident, saying the circumstances of the crash are “suspicious”.

The leader of the state’s main opposition Samajwadi Party, Akhilesh Yadav, was quoted by Hindustan Times newspaper as saying the incident “could be a murder attempt”.

The victim was on the way to a prison to meet her uncle – who is lodged there in connection with a different case – when the crash happened in Rae Bareli district on Sunday afternoon.

Police said the girl and her family had been provided with security, but “our information suggests the security wasn’t with them” on Sunday.

“It seems they refused it. A probe has been ordered,” police official MP Verma told NDTV.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Kuldeep Sengar has been charged with rape

In April 2018, the girl attempted to set herself on fire outside the residence of state chief minister Yogi Adityanath, alleging that Mr Sengar had kidnapped and raped her.

A day later, her father died in prison. He had been allegedly assaulted by the lawmaker’s brother, Atul Sengar, and his supporters a week before.

India’s federal investigation agency took over the case last year and arrested Atul Sengar and 10 others on charges of murder.

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