Uttar Pradesh Congress chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Rahul Gandhi come out of a hospital in Kanpur after meeting the Dalit girl on Monday. (PTI)
Lucknow, Feb. 7: The recurring cases of sexual abuse in Uttar Pradesh today made Rahul Gandhi visit two teenaged girls who had suffered atrocities, signalling how politically sensitive the issue has become.
The Amethi Congress MP was first supposed to visit a 16-year-old girl whose ear, nose and hand were chopped off by three village youths in Fatehpur yesterday because she resisted their alleged bid to rape her. But the girl is under treatment in a Kanpur hospital, so Rahul had to change his plans.
He then made an unscheduled visit to Banda district in Uttar Pradeshs Bundelkhand to meet a girl who was raped by a BSP MLA and three of his associates in mid-December.
MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi also slapped a case of theft against the girl, who is from the backward Nishad community. The girl was imprisoned for a brief while. Dwivedi was arrested on January 14 after the Nishad community complained to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayavati, whose rule has come under criticism because of recurring cases of gender crime.
In January this year, an Allahabad college teacher burnt herself to death after she was sexually exploited by the college principal. The same month, another teacher charged her college principal with rape — a BSP MLA runs the Etawah college. Another rape was reported from Ghaziabad.
Rahuls visit to the southern Uttar Pradesh village of Shabazpur, nearly seven weeks after the rape was first reported on December 15, shows the Congresss keenness to corner Mayavati on crimes against women. Since December, the Banda girls home has seen several high-profile visits — Uttar Pradesh Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and actress-turned-BJP politician Smriti Irani, among them.
Rahul landed at the 17-year-olds home around 11.30am, sat on her string bed and took notes as the girl spoke. He spent 30 minutes with me, asking me about the incident, the way I was sent to jail in December, the girl said. My mood lifted when I offered him a glass of milk and some molasses.
Rahul drank the milk and had some of the molasses.
Before leaving, he told her: Beti pareshan honey ki baat nahi. Hum dekhenge. Tumko koi chhoo nahi payenge (Dont be scared, my girl. I will look into your complaint. Nobody will be able to touch you).
According to a PTI report, Rahul later visited Hallet Hospital in Kanpur to check on the Dalit girl who was attacked in Fatehpur and promised all assistance to her family.
Rahul left his phone number with the girls parents, as he had done in Banda.
Mayavati may visit the hospital tomorrow. She was earlier scheduled to go to Kanpur February 13 but changed her schedule.
The main accused in the case, 25-year-old Shivom, was arrested today in Fatehpur, the police said.