Minor girl was allegedly gang-raped and arrested on theft charge

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Sunday ordered the suspension from her party of the Naraini MLA, Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi, a suspect in a case of alleged rape of a minor girl.

In what is seen as a damage control measure, given the embarrassment suffered by the Mayawati regime following the alleged involvement of some Bahujan Samaj Party MLAs in criminal acts, the suspension of Mr. Dwivedi comes a day after the Chief Minister ordered an inquiry into the incident by the Crime Branch of the State Criminal Investigation Department.

The alleged gang rape of the girl, from Banda district, and her subsequent arrest on a charge of theft have assumed political overtones with the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party accusing the government of a cover-up. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has also sought a report on the incident.

Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told journalists here that the MLA would remain suspended until the probe findings were placed before the Chief Minister. If his involvement in the crime was found true, he would be dismissed from the party and sent to jail. If he was not involved, he would be rehabilitated. A CB-CID team had started the investigation and a preliminary report was expected within three weeks.

Mr. Singh said the Chief Minister regretted that NCSC Chairman P.L. Punia was playing politics on the issue. Moreover, he said, it was not within the commission's jurisdiction to seek a report as the girl is not a Dalit but belongs to a Backward Class.

Father's version

The father of the girl alleged that his daughter was gang-raped in the MLA's house in Banda, after which she fled from there in the night of December 12/13. She was arrested from Turra village on December 14 following a first information report lodged by the MLA's kin, charging her with stealing a mobile phone, money and some clothes. When the Opposition parties raised a protest, the girl was medically examined in jail on December 29.

Mr. Singh said the FIR was lodged at the Attarra police station in Banda by Mayank Dwivedi.

Congress charge

The Congress MLA from Banda Sadar, Vivek Singh, has accused Ms. Mayawati of trying to save Purshottam Naresh Dwivedi. He assailed her for handing over the investigation to the CB-CID.