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MLA rape case: HC, not Maya, ordered victim's release

By Sharat Pradhan
January 15, 2011 14:51 IST
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The alleged gang-rape and illegal confinement of a minor girl by ruling Bahujan Samaj Party Member of Legislative Assembly Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi in Banda district did cast its shadow on the mega celebrations organised to mark the 55th birthday of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati in Lucknow on Saturday.

While the entire BSP machinery was busy with Mayawati's birthday celebrations, the Allahabad high court sprung a surprise by taking suo motto cognisance of the physical abuse and torture of 17-year-old Sheelu Nishad, who was allegedly held captive and gang-raped by Dwivedi and his cohorts. She was allegedly also booked and jailed on trumped up charges of stealing Rs 5,000 and a cell phone from the MLA's Banda home where she was kept for four days in December.

The court ordered her release from Banda jail, where she has been languishing for the past one month.

Though Saturday is a court holiday, senior judge Justice Rajesh Agrawal decided to take suo motto cognisance of the case and promptly constituted a division bench comprising Justices Imtiaz Murtaza and S C  Agrawal, following which her release was ordered.

The bench further directed the state government to provide immediate protection to the victim.

The court has fixed January 18 as the next date for hearing the matter.

Interestingly, within minutes of the court verdict, the chief minister's official machinery swung into action to hastily declare that it was her decision to release the victim. The chief minister was inaugurating a newly set up sewage treatment plant, when Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh hurriedly called a press conference and made the announcement.

"The chief minister has ordered immediate release of the rape victim as the Criminal Investigation Department inquiry ordered in the case has clearly found that she was falsely implicated in the case. She has also ordered a CID probe against all police officials involved in booking the girl," Singh told journalists.

As the news flashed across various TV channels, journalists in Allahabad got in touch with their counterparts in Lucknow to inform them that the high court's division bench had issued the release order well before the chief minister's announcement

It is also noteworthy that barely 45 minutes before the state admnistration claimed that  the poor girl's release was a part of the chief minister's benevolent gesture on the occasion of her birthday , Mayawati had no clue about CID exonerating the girl. In her 15-minute long address to party workers, she mentioned the case but didn't make any statement on the girl's innocence.

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