A court in Gorakhpur has convicted and sentenced to life on charges of gang rape a local activist who had been a co-petitioner in the alleged hate speech case against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the 2007 Gorakhpur communal violence. Mr. Adityanath was at the time the MP from the constituency.
The Gorakhpur district sessions court convicted Parvez Parvaz and Mahmood alias Jumman Baba, and sentenced them to life imprisonment, said Mr. Parvaz’s lawyer Miftahul Islam.
Parvaz had been arrested in September 2018 after a local woman in her thirties had accused him and Mahmood of gang rape after luring her to an isolated place near Pandeyhatta area late on June 3 under the pretext of helping her resolve some family problems.
According to the FIR lodged at the Rajghat police station on June 4, 2018 the woman claimed she came in touch with Mahmood, who is a “baba” (ascetic), at a local shrine when she was looking for help to get her estranged husband under “control” through “jhaad-phoonkh”, a form of exorcism.
After his arrest, Parvaz’s colleagues had alleged that he was being falsely implicated under political pressure as the FIR in the rape case had already been expunged earlier. The police, however, had said that the arrest was made after they found fresh evidence in the case. The verdict was pronounced on Tuesday.
While convicting the two accused, the district judge in his order said that they took the “poor and hapless woman” to an isolated place and took turns to rape her. The court also fined the two accused ₹25,000 each which would be provided to the victim for her rehabilitation.
The Gorakhpur communal violence case dates back to January 2007 when clashes broke out in the district and adjoining places after a Hindu youth was killed in a clash during a Muharram procession.
According to an FIR registered, Mr. Adityanath had allegedly delivered a provocative speech calling for revenge against the minority community in retaliation for the death of the youth. The police initially refused to register an FIR and lodged it only after the High Court had intervened.
After the BJP came to power in U.P. in 2017, the State government refused sanction to allow Mr. Adityanath to be prosecuted for inciting communal violence on the grounds that a CD, which was shown as prime evidence of the “hate speech”, had allegedly been tampered with. In February 2018, the HC upheld the State govt.’s decision and dismissed the writ petition seeking a probe in the case by an independent agency, following which the petitioners had approached the Supreme Court.
The appeal is pending before the apex court, said advocate Asad Hayat, Parvaz’s co-petitioner in the case.
Mr. Hayat said they would challenge his co-petitioner’s conviction in the Allahabad High Court.