Asha Singh is the mother of the victim of the Unnao rape incident that happened in June 2017. In January 2022, she made headlines when the Indian National Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra named her one of the candidates for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections.
Asha Singh’s husband, Surendra Singh alias Pappu, died on 9 April 2019 after he was beaten in police custody.
Before Sengar called her daughter at his home to offer her a job and raped her, the family of Asha Singh had friendly relations with Sengar’s family, and her husband was a close political aide to Sengar. She has one son and four daughters. Although Asha Singh is not literate, she has educated all her daughters, and one of her daughters has even pursued a master’s degree.
First Media Appearance
In April 2018, Asha Singh came to media attention in connection with a complaint against Kuldeep Singh Sengar, his brother Atul, and others involved in the custodial murder of her husband, Surendra Singh alias Pappu, and the rape of her daughter.
The Incident of Her Daughter’s Rape
The 17-year-old daughter of Asha Singh, who was a minor at that time, was gang-raped in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh, on 4 June 2017 by former BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar, his brother Jaideep alias Atul Singh, and others after she was kidnapped from her village Mankhi.
Police’s Reluctance in Filing the FIR
Her daughter was found in a village named Auraiya, 116.8 kilometers from her village, on 21 June 2017, 17 days after the gang rape. The next day, i.e., on 22 June 2017, the family claimed that when they attempted to name Kuldeep Singh Sengar in the FIR, the police resisted and even threw them out.
Her Daughter Was Sold for Rs. 60 Thousand
According to the victim’s statement that she recorded in front of a Judicial Magistrate on 22 June 2017, Shubham Singh, Awdhesh Tiwari, Brijesh Yadav, and other unknown assailants were responsible for the abduction and gang rape. A second FIR was filed later under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and the accused were detained. As stated in her statement, she was even sold for Rs. 60 thousand to a man in Auraiya.
An Open Letter to CM Yogi Adityanath
In an open letter written to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on 17 August 2017, the victim detailed her experience of gang rape. While the police recorded her statement, they did not allow her to identify the assailant.
Custodial Death of Her Husband
Asha Singh’s husband, Surendra Singh alias Pappu, was allegedly beaten by police at Sengar and 10 others’ behest on 3 April 2018 in connection with a false case of illegal arms. Surendra Singh later died on 9 April 2018 while he was being treated at a hospital.
Her Daughter Tried to Immolate Herself
Asha Singh’s rape victim daughter attempted to self-immolate outside Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s official residence in Lucknow on 8 April 2018, alleging the failure of police to act.
FIR Against BJP MLA and CBI Investigation
An FIR was registered against the BJP MLA, Kuldeep Sengar, as a result of widespread outrage, and the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which then referred the matter to the Allahabad High Court. The Allahabad High Court ordered the arrest of the MLA after the CBI questioned him on 13 April 2018.
Joint protests were held across the country for the Unnao rape case and the Kathua rape case in April 2018. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a statement in which he condemned the incidents.
A Letter to CJI Ranjan Gogoi
In a letter written to CJI Ranjan Gogoi on 17 July 2019, Asha Singh and her daughter expressed that Sengar and his men were putting their lives in danger.
A Road Accident or an Attempt to Murder?
On 28 July 2019, a truck traveling at a high speed with a blackened number plate rammed into a car that was carrying the victim, her lawyer, and two aunts; the accident killed both her aunts and left the victim and her lawyer critically injured.
The Intervention of the Supreme Court
Taking cognisance of a letter written by the victim and her family to the CJI on 1 August 2019, the apex court transferred cases related to the rape case to Delhi, directing the trial court to complete it within 45 days.
Trial and Conviction
At the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, a day-to-day trial began on 5 August 2019. The victim was flown from King George’s Medical College in Lucknow to AIIMS Trauma Centre in New Delhi. The trial court ordered the victim and her family to be shifted by the Delhi Commission for Women to rented housing in Delhi on 6 December 2019 after she was discharged from AIIMS in New Delhi on 25 September 2019. Former BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar was convicted on 16 December 2019, and he was sentenced on 20 December 2019 to life in prison and a fine of Rs. 25 lakh.
MLA Ticket from Unnao
On 13 January 2022, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee in charge of Uttar Pradesh, released a list of 125 candidates for the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections in which Asha Singh’s name was among the 50 women of the list. While releasing the list, Priyanka Gandhi said,
The list sends a new signal that if you are someone who has faced injustice, then you have the power to fight it. The Congress will stand by you and support you.”
While thankimng Proyanka Gandhi for giving her an opportunity to contest the assembly elections, Asha Singh said,
She has given me and the women of the state a kind of respect no other political party ever did before.”
In an interview, whe she was asked about the reason behind contesting the assembly elections, Asha Singh said that her fight against the mosters was not possible without getting political strength. She said,
I know that my daughter, I myself and other family members will be killed if we become careless. Sengar, his family and the BJP are still active against us. I need political strength to keep fighting the monsters, even if many of them are in jail. This was why I requested the Congress general secretary to give me the ticket.”
In January 2022, Asha Singh started her election campaign in her native village in Unnao, where she returned nearly after four years. While campaigning, she vowed to annihilate the ruling BJP government from the state. She said,
The BJP removed Sengar from the party after many months, and only under media pressure. But the Supreme Court took cognisance of the case on the basis of media reports and we finally got justice. But socio-political justice is still awaited — Sengar may be in jail but the BJP is still in power in Uttar Pradesh and in the country. I shall ask voters how they can back a party that supports a rapist and killers.”
Asha Singh’s rape survivor daughter also aided her mother in her election camapaign. In an interview with a newspaper, her daughter also pledged to campaign against the BJP in the elections. She said,
I’m the rape survivor. I can tell you that the BJP is very harmful to women. The entire country should keep this in mind when voting. We shall soon rent a house and an election office in Unnao city and begin a full-fledged campaign.”