Unnao: Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Saturday met family members of the Unnao rape victim, who died after being set ablaze, and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of patronising criminals that led to recurrent crimes against women in the state.
Alleging that the BJP government had created such circumstances that there was no fear in the minds of criminals in the state, she urged the government and the administration to take seriously the issue of violence against women.
"They (the BJP government) are saying that there is no place for criminals in UP. But the way in which anarchy has spread and crime against women is taking place in the state, I wonder if in the Uttar Pradesh made by them there is any place for women," she said while talking to reporters after meeting the deceased woman's family members at their house here.
The Congress leader, who was on a visit to Lucknow, rushed here to meet the victim's family following news of her death at a hospital in Delhi due to the 90 per cent burns she suffered after being set afire here allegedly by five persons, including two accused of raping her.
Priyanka Gandhi told reporters that during the meeting, the victim's family members narrated to her their ordeal of being harassed for a long time by their daughter's perpetrators.
"A young girl (from the victim's family) was threatened that her name will be struck off from school, so she did not dare to go to school. The (girl child's) father was beaten up, and their agriculture field set ablaze in June. The family was tortured in every possible way. After that, all these things happened," Gandhi claimed.
The Congress general secretary went on to say there were rumours that the pradhan of the village has links with the BJP, asking reporters to find out the truth behind it.
"There are possibilities that he may be given patronage. In the past, we have seen that there were prominent accused persons who were protected. Such type of incidents are happening on a daily basis," she said, adding that the issue should not be turned into a political one and that the government should find out why such incidents happen in the state on a regular basis.
"Today, there is no fear among criminals in Uttar Pradesh. If someone can barge into their home, beat her (the girl child's) father, threaten the children and women, and also set the agricultural field ablaze, obviously, there is no fear in their (criminals') minds. The government must take seriously why such circumstances exist in UP," she told reporters.
A number of senior UP Congress leaders were present with her as she offered her condolences to the deceased woman's family at their home in Bihar area here. A huge crowd of villagers had gathered outside the house.
A family member of the victim, with whom Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met, told reporters after the meeting: "She told us that she will fight for us".
Hours after the death of the 23-year-old gang rape victim at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital, the Congress leader took to Twitter to allege that the "hollow law and order mechanism in UP" had denied justice to survivors of sexual violations in the state.
In a tweet, she said the UP government did not provide security to the Unnao gang rape victim even though a similar incident had earlier taken place in the same district.
She was referring to another alleged attack in Unnao district in July when the car in which a woman, who had accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar of raping her, was was hit by a truck.
"Why the victim of Unnao gangrape case was not given security keeping in mind an earlier incident of Unnao? What action has been taken on the official who refused to register an FIR? What steps are being taken by the government to stop crime against the women, which take place on a daily basis?" Priyanka Gandhi tweeted.
In another tweet she said: "I pray to God to give courage to the family members of Unnao victim", and went on to say that it was due to everyone's collective failure as a society that the victim was not able to get justice.
"At the social level, we all are guilty, but at the same time, this also points out to the hollow law and order mechanism in UP," she tweeted.
The rape victim succumbed to severe burns late on Friday night and the body was taken to her village in Unnao district by road, her family said.
The woman was set ablaze allegedly by five persons, including two men accused of raping her. She was airlifted to the Delhi hospital from Lucknow.
Meanwhile, in Lucknow, police lathicharged Congress workers who staged a protest against the government in Hazratganj.