Home Minister Amit Shah believes the path to India turning into a $5 trillion economy traverses through the rugged lanes of Uttar Pradesh, with the state alone capable of contributing $1 trillion to the country's economic engine.
Economic growth, however, seldom exists in regions where basic law and order is missing. Places where jungle raj prevails are seen as inimical to business growth and corporate giants rationally enough fear investing there.
This is not to say that any state or region can claim 100% freedom from crimes — but there needs to be in place a surety that those breaking the law would not receive protection from police or the government.
The opposite seems to hold true for Uttar Pradesh — exemplified by the horrific Unnao rape case.
The news of the accident suffered by the Unnao rape survivor, who accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar of raping her multiple times in 2017, doesn't bode well for a Yogi Adityanath government that's trying to attract investors to help UP become the first state with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1 trillion.
The car in which the Unnao survivor was travelling with her aunts and lawyer. (Photo: Video grab/India Today TV)
The teenage girl, who levelled rape allegations against Sengar, met with a devastating accident in Rae Bareli district of UP on Sunday, July 28, when the car she and her family members were travelling in collided with a truck.
The girl is seriously injured.
Her two aunts are dead.
The girl's lawyer, who was also in the vehicle, has been admitted to hospital with severe injuries.
The security detail that the girl was meant to have was not accompanying her. The UP Police failed to explain how the security cover went missing — despite the girl complaining on several occasions about a grave threat to her life.
The number plate of the truck that hit the victim's car was reportedly smeared over with black paint.
Yes, it is not possible for the state to pre-empt every crime. It is also not possible for the chief minister of any state to personally look into the developments of all cases. But the Unnao case is one in which the chief minister should have allowed no laxity — for more reasons than one.
The prime accused in the case is an MLA from the BJP — the party in power.
The victim first raised the allegations in 2017. In 2018, people got to know of her plight only when she attempted self-immolation. Just a day later, the victim's father died in police custody — 14 injury marks covered his body. The video of how he was treated in hospital shocked those raising their voices against injustice.
After a national outcry, Sengar was finally arrested.
The chief minister was apparently dozing all the while.
The accident that happened on Sunday could be just that — an accident. It could also be part of a larger conspiracy to silence the Unnao victim's voice. But the biggest casualty here has been the public faith in law enforcement agencies.
Sengar hasn't been found guilty by the courts yet. In the eyes of the law, he is innocent — until proven guilty. That is how the law should be in a civilised society.
But civilised societies also cannot allow fathers of girls complaining of rape to die suddenly while in police custody.
Civilised societies cannot allow police to deny filing FIRs just because the accused is from the ruling party.
Civilised societies cannot allow victims to suffer accidents via trucks plying with greased number plates in states that are looking at becoming $1 trillion economies.
Victims, vulnerable enough to have told the state repeatedly that they fear for their very life.
The truck which collided with the Unnao survivor's car. (Photo: Video grab/India Today TV)
Yogi Adityanath has done nothing to restore people's faith that when it comes to maintaining law and order, he wouldn't spare even his own people.
That Sengar continues to be a BJP MLA, without clarity on the allegations surrounding him, is a statement on just how much onus lies with Adityanath to restore the people's faith in the BJP's promise of 'Ram Rajya' in UP.
This case is being closely watched through all its murkiness.