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Justice Fails Us Once Again: Unnao Rape Victim Set Ablaze By Accused Out On Bail

by Niharika Nayak

Today India awoke to the news that the men accused in the Hyderabad gang-rape and murder case were killed in an encounter with the police. Many people, including the family of the victim, thanked the police for not delaying the process. However, this is one day after another young rape survivor was set ablaze by her rapist who was on bail. The 23-year-old girl was allegedly raped on December 12, 2018, in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. One of the two main accused, Shivam Trivedi was out on bail and the other, Shubham Trivedi was still under the “absconder” status when they attacked the girl. Thrashed, stabbed, and set ablaze by a gang of five, the survivor is now fighting for her life with severe 90% burns. So, how did all of this happen? Read on to find out (1).

Unnao Rape Case

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According to the complaint registered by the victim, Shivam took her to a Hindu temple under the pretense that he would marry her and raped her instead. The victim then sought shelter in her relative’s place in Rae Barely. Unfortunately, the accused found her location and threatened to upload a video of the rape online if she didn’t ‘surrender to them’. When she went to meet the accused, he locked her up and kept an eye on every movement she made.

According to the victim, the accused would take her to different towns and rape her on the pretext that he would marry her someday. She also stated that the accused prepared an affidavit for marriage in a civil court, but he brought the victim from Rae Bareli to her family’s residence in Unnao. Time and time again, the accused threatened the victim and said he would eliminate her family members or upload the video online. On December 12th, 2018, the victim was held at gunpoint and raped by Shivam Trivedi and his accomplice Shubham Trivedi. Despite attempting to lodge an FIR the very next day, December 13th, the police did not see it through. Finally on March 4th, 2019 an FIR was lodged against Shivam and Shubham Trivedi on the orders of Rae Bareli court. On September 19th, Shivam surrendered to the Rae Bareli court.

On November 25th, 2019, Shivam received bail from the high court and was released five days later. However, his companion, Shubham, was still reported as ‘absconding’. Ten days later, on December 5th, the victim was attacked while she was on her way to meet with her lawyer. A gang including Shivam, Shubham, both of their fathers, and a helper beat the victim viciously with sticks, stabbed her, and set her ablaze. The victim who was engulfed in flames started running towards the police station. Bystanders helped douse the flames and contacted the police who rushed the victim to the nearest hospital. The UP government later flew her in an air ambulance to Delhi for treatment at Safdarjung hospital. The woman identified her attackers in a report and police have arrested all those involved. An FIR was registered, and Shivam and Shubham were both booked under IPC sections 326, 307 and 506. The family of the accused, however, has denied all allegations and demanded a CBI investigation into the case.

The Public’s Reaction

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Many citizens have expressed outrage over the fact that the accused was let out on bail. This had also drawn comparisons with the Unnao minor rape case in which the accused rapists tried to kill the minor while she was on her way to testify in court (2). This incident has triggered a political firestorm with many other leaders like Priyanka Gandhi accusing UP CM Yogi Adityanath of spreading false propaganda. The CM has made tall claims about how UP’s crime rate has dropped. Many political leaders have stated that the entire state cabinet should resign. The CM has requested officials to take strict action against the accused and has promised to allot government funds to the victim’s medical expenses.

According to local residents, the victim and Shivam had known each other since childhood and had even studied together. The victim had already graduated while the accused was still in college. According to the victim’s brother, they had previously threatened to burn his sister alive if she did not withdraw the case. The mother of Shubham, in a desperate attempt to save her son, claimed that the victim has ‘framed’ the family members and made disparaging comments on the character of the victim. She even claimed that those who were arrested were apparently sleeping in their beds when the police arrested them.

Twitter Reactions

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The news of the incident has sent shockwaves across the country with many expressing their horror and grief online. The hashtag #unnaohorror has been trending online. Read some of the reactions below.

While people celebrate the fact that the accused involved in the Hyderabad rape case were killed in an encounter, we cannot forget the bravery of the Unnao rape survivor. Despite being gravely injured, she managed to get help, give her statement to the police and is now fighting for her life. We hope her rapists are brought to justice as soon as possible, and we hope she recovers from her injuries.

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Niharika Nayak

Niharika has a passion for all things art, music and travel. During her spare time she likes experimenting in the kitchen, painting pop culture icons and chasing after random street cats. Her dream is to one day own an amusement park so she can ride roller coasters for free.