Thursday 9 April, 2020

Indian court jails lawmaker for life in rape of minor

An Indian court sentenced a lawmaker from the governing party on Friday to life in prison after finding him guilty of abducting and raping a minor girl in 2017.

New Delhi Judge Dharmesh Sharma also ordered Kuldeep Sengar to pay a fine of 2.5 million rupees ($35,715) to the victim.

He was arrested in April last year and expelled from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party. He was a lawmaker from northern Uttar Pradesh state.

The teen victim also accused the BJP of shielding the lawmaker and police of delaying his prosecution.

The girl said Sengar was known to her family because they were from the same village in Uttar Pradesh state. She accused Sengar of raping her in June 2017 when she went to his home in Unnao district, 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lucknow, the state capital.

Opposition parties and women's organizations have accused the lawmaker of orchestrating a car crash in August that injured the teen who accused him of rape.

They said the crash, in which the victim's car was hit by a truck, was an attempt on her life by Sengar's supporters to weaken the rape case against him. Two of her aunts were killed and her lawyer was seriously injured. Police arrested the truck's driver and owner. The victim has since recovered.

Violent crimes against women have been on the rise in India despite tough laws enacted in 2013. In 2012, the fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in the heart of New Delhi prompted hundreds of thousands of Indians to take to the streets to demand stricter rape laws.

The outrage over the New Delhi attack spurred quick action on legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. Indian lawmakers also voted to lower to 16 from 18 the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes.

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