Kuldeep Singh Sengar is accused of raping a 16-year-old girl last year

Lucknow:  BJP lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar, accused of raping a 16-year-old girl last year, has been arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation or CBI this evening. The arrest comes hours after the Allahabad High Court ordered the probe agency to immediately arrest the lawmaker and severely reprimanded the Yogi Adityanath government.

Ahead of the high court ruling, the CBI, which had taken over the probe on Thursday morning, had started questioning Kuldeep Singh Sengar early this morning. The BJP lawmaker has been charged under the stringent sexual offences law to protect children and the penal code. It took the CBI 16 hours to arrest him.

Today, in court, the judges noted how the police had not acted on a rape complaint of the 16-year-old girl but rushed to register false cases against her family, and how her father was thrashed "by the brother and goons of Kuldeep Singh" before being arrested "on a petty offence".

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had agreed to transfer the case to the CBI this week in face of mounting pressure to crack down on the powerful Unnao lawmaker. A special team that the government had set up to probe the case was disbanded and the state police refused to arrest the lawmaker, because the case was going to be probed by the CBI.

In the high court yesterday, the state's advocate general Raghavendra Singh had presented a similar argument.

Ordering Kuldeep Singh Sengar's immediate arrest today, the court rejected the contention.

"In our opinion, arrest of the accused in the present case is necessarily required to safeguard the majesty of law and the dignity of the prosecutrix (the girl) and to instil confidence that free and fair investigation shall be undertaken by the Investigating agency," the bench of Chief Justice DB Bhonsale and Justice Suneet Kumar ruled.

"The disturbing feature of the case is that the law and order machinery and the government officials were directly in league and under the influence of Kuldeep Singh," the judges said, criticising the law officer's approach.

All this week, Kuldeep Singh Sengar has strutted around denying the accusation, disparaging the girl and her family and hitting out at the media in the Unnao rape case. During that time, his brother Atul Singh was arrested for a brutal assault on the girl's father, who was not just arrested with severe wounds on his body but who died last week in custody.

On Wednesday night, Sengar made a dramatic appearance outside the house of the police chief in Lucknow, in a convoy of 20 vehicles. "I have come here because TV channels were saying I will surrender," he appeared to taunt reporters, insisting that he was neither a fugitive nor a rapist.