Rape row puts Gehlot govt in fix, boosts BJP

Raje seeks resignation of minister accused of assault

Just a few months before the elections, the opposition BJP in Rajasthan got a shot in the arm with Minister of State for Dairy, Khadi and Village Industries Babulal Nagar put in the dock on charges of raping a 27-year-old married woman.

This is the second instance of a minister in the Gehlot cabinet landing in a sex scandal.  
Former minister Mahipal Maderna and MLA Malkhan Singh are in jail in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Bhawari Devi in Jodhpur.  
The BJP state president and former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje demanded a CBI enquiry on Wednesday and immediate resignation of the minister, while the Chief Minister said nobody should interfere with the law and it should be allowed to take its course.

He said the charges are being investigated by the CID-Crime Branch.

The woman said she is living in constant fear for her life and child. “I have been hiding, running for cover ever since the news broke out,” she said.

She alleged police are not cooperating. “He threatened to kill me and kidnap my child,” she added.

The victim said she met Babulal Nagar twice for help to secure a dairy booth for her relative, and for admission of her child to a school. The minister apparently helped her both times. Then he allegedly called her on September 11 to his house, claiming he will help her get a job.

The minister allegedly sent away people at his office and called her to his living quarters, claiming his family was inside. “He took me to a room, locked the door and started molesting me,” said the woman.

“When I protested, he gagged me and started assaulting me,” the woman said.
She said she has kept evidence of the assault, including stained clothes and records of the minister’s call to her. “There were many attempts to influence me and withdraw the allegations, even by the minister’s wife,” she said.

Fearing that police would not register her complaint, she directly approached a court, which then directed police to register a FIR against the minister. Nagar has been booked for rape and causing hurt.

He has termed the charges as a political conspiracy just before the elections. He said he knew the woman but denied the charges.

He said she used to approach him seeking undue favours and he once rebuked her, which may have prompted her to make false charges. He said he was never in the house alone on September 11, the day of the incident.

People’s Union for Civil Liberty of Rajasthan expressed concern over increasing incidents of atrocities against women, demanded immediate arrest of the minister and his dismissal from the council of ministers.

They also demanded protection to the woman and recording of her statements under section 164 without delay.

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