AHMEDABAD: The BJP has found itself in a tight spot after an ex-MLA was named in a sex racket in Kutch.
Four district-level leaders of the party have already been suspended after they were arrested in connection with the racket. Their names figure in the FIR filed by a 23-year-old woman accusing nine persons of gang-rape. The party said the law would takes its course and “nobody will be spared.”
On Saturday, Kutch BJP MP Vinod Chavda told media that “he was aware of the sex racket” for several months but stressed that only some “local leaders were involved in it.” The complainant said “around 35 young women were lured and sexually exploited by the accused, who include political leaders and businessmen.” The police have so far arrested eight of the nine accused named in the FIR.
State Commission for Women chairperson Lilaben Ankoliya visited the complainant and her family and announced a compensation of ₹3 lakh. The Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party held protests in Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad and Kutch demanding a judicial probe and a court-monitored probe.
“The big names are being protected by the state authorities. As per the victim’s affidavit, many senior BJP leaders are involved in the organised sex racket in which innocent women were forced into prostitution,” said AAP leader and Delhi Minister Gopal Rai. He threatened that if “real culprits are not nabbed, AAP would hold a State-wide agitation in Gujarat.”
Patidar quota agitation leader Hardik Patel slammed the BJP government and said crimes against women were rising in the State and authorities were turning blind eye to them.
According to the FIR, in August 2015, the woman came to her mother’s house at Kothara village in Kutch from Mumbai, where she was staying with her husband. She was looking for a job and her mother sought help from Bababhai, who owned a mobile shop in Naliya town.
He reportedly assured the family that he would help the woman find a job within a couple of days. He also introduced her to a gas agency owner Shantilal Solanki. Solanki offered her a job at ₹5,500 per month. Solanki is the main accused and has been arrested by the police and is currently on police remand.
The victim said she was first raped by three persons, allegedly including Shantilal Solanki at his house. She said she had gone to his house to get her advance salary when her cold drink was spiked. In the subsequent months, the woman was allegedly raped in hotels, in moving cars and at houses of other accused, including the four BJP leaders named in the FIR.
While Shantilal Solanki was the Abdasa taluka president of the BJP, Baxi Panch, Govind Parumalani and Ajit Ramvani are BJP councillors in the Gandhidham municipality, and Vasant Bhanushali is a BJP worker.