Outrage mounts in India over teen's suspicious car crash

NEW DELHI • Fresh protests erupted in India yesterday amid growing public fury over a car crash that critically injured a teenager, who had accused a lawmaker from the ruling party of rape and harassment.

Two of the 19-year-old's aunts were killed and her lawyer was badly injured when a truck collided with their car in northern Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday, raising suspicions of foul play.

The incident will be probed by federal investigators amid speculation that local police could favour her alleged rapist, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Kuldeep Singh Sengar.

Sengar, a four-term lawmaker, has been in jail since last year.

The young woman and the lawyer were battling for their lives in a hospital in the state capital Lucknow.

The teenager had accused Sengar of raping her at his home in Unnao district in 2017, but police initially refused to take action.

Her father was detained by police and beaten severely in custody - allegedly by Sengar's brother - and later died from his injuries.

The teenager also tried to set herself on fire outside the home of the state's Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a hardline BJP stalwart.

Protesters yesterday tried to march towards the state government's office in New Delhi as they slammed Mr Adityanath for failing to protect the teenager.

"There are too many coincidences in this case," protest organiser Shabnam Hashmi said.

"For months the police didn't register a case against the politician. Once that is done, her father is killed in police custody and now, a clear attempt to kill her."

Earlier, members of opposition parties chanted slogans as they called for justice outside the national Parliament.

The teenager's family members staged a protest outside the Lucknow hospital, accusing Sengar of ordering the highway crash. There were also separate protests held by the opposition Congress party in Lucknow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Outrage mounts in India over teen's suspicious car crash'. Print Edition | Subscribe