Sangeeta Singh, 52, chairperson, Unnao Zila Panchayat, says she never thought her husband, MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, would be blamed for the rape survivor’s accident. The survivor’s uncle manipulated her, she says. Excerpts from an interview:
When did you come to know about the accident?
I got a phone call on Sunday [July 28] evening from a relative who came to know about it through TV reports.
Did you ever think that your husband would be blamed for it?
I had never thought it would come to my husband. Before I could think about anything, the media had started blaming him. The accident was natural. My husband or family had no hand in it. If something were to happen to the girl, we would have been the first to be blamed. Do you think we would have risked that? How do you think it has impacted my daughters [aged 24 and 22]? They have been openly called the daughters of a rapist.
Do you remember where you were on the day [June 4, 2017] the rape is alleged to have happened?
I was in Lucknow and left for Kanpur in the evening to attend a family function in the Naubasta area. Vidhayakji (that is how she addresses her husband) was in his constituency. He reached the function at 8.45pm, much before any of us [the survivor alleged that the rape took place at 8pm]. We have told this to the investigating agency. They are under tremendous pressure to prove him guilty.
Had you ever met the survivor before the accusations?
Never. I had only met her elder sister and grandmother. My husband had also never met her. If you were to place her photo before us, we would not recognise her. It was only after she approached the chief minister that we saw her in the media.
The survivor is battling for her life. Do you ever think about her?
I am sympathetic to her suffering. She has been manipulated by her uncle, Mahesh Singh. Children are emotional. They do not think of the consequences of what they are doing. She has been used. Her uncle, in turn, has been used by other rich people with political ambitions.
Do you think it is possible for a young woman to go as far as attempting self-immolation because of manipulation?
That is a question that must be asked of her. So many members of her family have worked at our farms, homes and brick kilns over the years. Last year, we helped during the wedding of the daughter of one of her relatives who was suffering from cancer. They knew whatever went on in our home and our family. They misused that access.