A special court is expected to pronounce the quantum of punishment for former Uttar Pradesh Minister Gayatri Prajapati, a key figure in the previous Akhilesh Yadav government, in a rape case. Prajapati was on Wednesday convicted for raping a woman.
Special Judge PK Rai held Prajapati and two others guilty of gang-raping the woman and also trying to rape her minor daughter, saying the prosecution has been able to prove charges against the trio beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge fixed November 12 to decide the quantum of sentence for the former minister and his accomplices Ashok Tiwari and Ashish Shukla. While convicting the trio, the judge, however, acquitted four other accused in the case — Vikas Verma, Roopeshwar, Amrendra Singh alias Pintu and Chandrapal — due to the paucity of evidence against them.
The prosecution had produced 17 witnesses in the case. While holding the trio guilty, Special Judge Rai also directed the Lucknow police commissioner to ascertain the circumstances in which the rape victim and two other witnesses had changed their statements time and again during the trial.
A key member of the Akhilesh Yadav’s Cabinet, holding portfolios of the transport and mining ministries, Prajapati was arrested in March 2017 on charges of raping the woman and trying to rape her minor daughter as well.
The FIR against the minister was registered at the Gautampalli police station on the directions of the Supreme Court, which gave its order on the woman’s plea against the police inaction over her complaint. After the registration of the FIR on February 18, 2017, the minister was arrested in March and had been in jail ever since then.
The woman had claimed that the minister and his accomplices have been raping her since October 2014 and she decided to complain against them after they tried to molest and rape her minor daughter in July 2016.