Unnao Rape and Murder: Foul Play Alleged After Key Witness Dies, Buried Hurriedly

Yunus was a key witness to the assault against Surendra Singh, the father of a minor girl who was allegedly raped by a BJP MLA in June 2017.

New Delhi: A key witness in the murder of the Unnao rape survivor’s father has died under suspicious circumstances, the rape survivor’s uncle has alleged. He has now written to the Uttar Pradesh police and the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the case, alleging foul play in the death of Yunus, the witness, and also seeking protection for himself and his family.

In June 2017, a 17-year-old girl from Makhi village in Unnao alleged that she was kidnapped and gangraped by a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his accomplices. However, at the time, the case registered by the police did not name Sengar as an accused. The survivor wrote repeatedly to the chief minister’s office and senior police officers in the state demanding that rape charges be framed against Sengar. After months of running around – and failing – to get rape charges framed, the survivor’s mother had to eventually approach the chief judicial magistrate to get an FIR lodged against the BJP MLA.

On April 3, the survivor’s father, Surendra Singh, was brutally assaulted by Sengar’s brother, Atul Singh, along with accomplices in broad daylight. Videos later emerged showing the severity of the beating that was meted out to the rape survivor’s father. The father later succumbed to his injuries.

Yunus, who was said to have been present at the time of the assault, was a key witness in the case. He died on August 18 of a liver disease, the police claim, and was buried the same evening. “They did not do an autopsy or post-mortem. The family did not lodge a complaint and the police did not investigate the matter despite Yunus being the main witness in the case. It is likely that he was poisoned by Sengar’s men,” the survivor’s uncle said.

The police have, however, denied this. “Yunus had a history of liver disease and was being treated by doctors for a long time. He died due to the disease,” said Vivek Ranjan Rai, Safipur circle officer.

Yunus’s family has also rejected the claims of foul play and instead alleged that the survivor’s uncle offered them money to exhume the body and send it for a post-mortem. “He offered us money. But we refused. There is no way we are digging up our brother’s body,” said Jan Mohammed, Yunus’s brother.

The uncle has alleged that Yunus’s family is facing threats. “They are being threatened by Sengar and that is why they are saying these things. He is very powerful and can intimidate anyone here.”