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Unnao case: CBI gets 4th deadline as victim discharged from AIIMS

Unnao case: CBI gets 4th deadline as victim discharged from AIIMS

New Delhi: As the Unnao rape victim was on Wednesday discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here, the Central Bureau of Investigation sought for two weeks' additional time from the Supreme Court of India to complete the probe in the accident that put her in a critical condition on July 28.

Nearly two months after the accident, the Apex court gave the CBI its fourth deadline to complete the probe in the accident case, granting the central agency an additional 15-day time period to complete the investigation and file a chargesheet.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta appeared before a bench of Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose on behalf of the CBI and sought for the extension of the deadline, citing that officials were yet to record the statement of the victim's lawyer, who was also seriously injured in the accident, as he was still unconscious.

On July 28, the Unnao rape victim, her lawyer Mahendra Singh and two of her aunts were travelling in a car which was hit by a truck in a head-on collision near Rae Bareilly district. The rape victim and her lawyer, who was driving the car were critically injured while both her aunts were killed in the crash. The truck's number plates were deliberately blackened.

While the Unnao rape case only came to light after a year of the incident when the victim tried to immolate herself outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's residence in 2018; the case where Bangermau MLA Kuldeep Sengar was accused of kidnapping and raping the then 17-year-old girl was held up until the July accident this year shined a spotlight on it once again.

Given the seriousness of the injuries and the possibility of foul play in the accident case, the Uttar Pradesh Police hurriedly registered an FIR in the case against Sengar himself and nine other co-accused, which was then within a day handed over to the CBI for investigation.

On August 1, the Supreme Court of India took suo motu cognisance of the accident after a letter addressed to the top court was made public, where the rape victim's family narrates how Sengar's men continued to intimidate them and threaten them with consequences in a bid to save the legislator. Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi at this point had directed the CBI to complete the accident probe and file a chargesheet within a fortnight.

Since then the central probe agency has asked for three deadline extensions, including the most recent one on Wednesday. The agency sought for four weeks' time on August 19 after the first deadline expired, but the Apex court gave them two weeks. Following this, the CBI again sought two weeks' time on September 6, after the second deadline expired.

In the meantime, the CBI poured in extensive resources to crack the accident case, with officials talking to Sengar in the UP jail where he was lodged, forensic experts deployed at the crime scene and agency officials recreating the scene of the crime. In fact, the central agency had brought in more than 20 officers from Delhi in addition to forensic experts from its Central Forensic Science Laboratory.

But the CBI has reportedly brought officials from UP and Delhi to Kolkata, where they have been tasked with tracing former Kolkata Police Commissioner Rajeev Kumar for the last 12 days, unfortunately with little success.

Abhinay Lakshman

Abhinay Lakshman

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