India ruling party lawmaker arrested on rape allegation

FILE - In this Thursday, April 12, 2018 file photo, Indian students and activists participate in a protest against recent cases of rape in the country, including one where the accused is a governing Hindu nationalist party lawmaker, in New Delhi, India. The accused lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, denies the allegation. He was arrested Friday after questioning in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said Abhishek Dayal, a spokesman for the federal Central Bureau of Investigation. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, File)

LUCKNOW, India — A lawmaker from India's ruling Hindu nationalist party was arrested after being accused of abducting and raping a teenage girl last year, officials said.

Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested Friday after being questioned by authorities in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, said Abhishek Dayal, a spokesman for India's Central Bureau of Investigation. He denies the allegation.

The teen also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi's governing Bharatiya Janata Party of shielding the lawmaker and police of delaying his prosecution.

Violent crimes against women have been on the rise in India despite tough laws enacted in 2013. In 2012, the fatal gang rape of a young woman in the heart of New Delhi prompted hundreds of thousands of Indians to take to the streets to demand stricter rape laws.

The outrage over the New Delhi attack spurred quick action on legislation doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalizing voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. Indian lawmakers also voted to lower to 16 from 18 the age at which a person can be tried as an adult for heinous crimes.

The girl told reporters Thursday that Sengar was known to her family because they were from the same village in Uttar Pradesh state. She accused Sengar of raping her in June last year when she went to his home in Unnao district, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Lucknow.

Federal investigators said the teenager's family also accused four other people of kidnapping and raping her. Police are investigating the complaint.

The girl said she protested to state authorities in August last year but nothing happened. She and her family moved to New Delhi because they felt threatened by the lawmaker and his supporters and she sent petitions to India's president, the prime minister and the state police chief seeking help.

Last week, she visited the office of the state's top elected official, Yogi Adiyanath. When she was denied meeting with state officials, she took out kerosene and tried to set herself on fire.

The lawmaker's brother, Atul Sengar, and his supporters have been accused of beating up the girl's father and Atul Sengar was arrested this week for causing the father's death.

The father was arrested after the beating because of a pending charge of possessing unlicensed guns and died, triggering protests. Internal injuries caused by the beating and blood poisoning were listed as causes of death.

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they are a victim of a sex crime.

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