As the Bihar elections are fast approaching, the political parties are engaging in different permutations and combinations to garner the most number of seats. The Congress on Friday released its list of 70 candidates who it will be fielding in the Battlefield Bihar with the hope of mustering a seat or two. However, one name in the list has caught the attention of all and that is Brajesh Kumar Pandey, the brother of NDTV ‘journalist’ Ravish Kumar who has been handed an electorate ticket by Congress to contest election from the Govindganj assembly constituency of Purvi Champaran district. He is one of the 34 Savarna candidates fielded by the Bihar Congress with the hopes of attracting the Upper-caste votes.
At first glance, nothing would look out of the ordinary about Pandey contesting elections but when you dig around, you can find that in February 2017, Brajesh Kumar Pandey had to resign as party’s state vice-president after a minor Dalit girl had accused him of sexually abusing her.
Brother of Ravish Kumar & Congress leader Brajesh Panday along with friend (Nikhil) were accused of raping a Minor Dalit Girl.
Later, the dalit rape survior was forced to marry Nikhil in order to settle the case.
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) October 15, 2020
Reportedly, the victim Dalit minor girl, who was the daughter of a Congress leader and former minister, had named Pandey and several other people of sexually abusing her over a period of time.
The girl had then demanded a probe by a senior police officer after rising suspicion that the case might be scuttled or diluted due to the involvement of politically well-connected people, including Brajesh Pandey.
After the accusations by the girl, Pandey was charged under the stringent law on sexual crimes against children – the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. He was also charged under Sections 354 and 376 of the IPC, and other Sections of the SC/ST Act.
While Pandey got caught in the net of law enforcement, news reports started coming out that Ravish Kumar’s brother had allegedly started using his political reach and his brother’s influence to sabotage the investigation.
Consequently, in a bizarre twist to the case in 2017, the victim moved a compromise petition before the special judge hearing the case, Justice Akhilanand Dubey, praying that she was ready to marry the accused Nikhil.
The petition, which has the signature of the ‘victim’, says that since the family elders from both sides have suggested that a compromise should be reached between the two families, she was making a fresh appeal to start life afresh.
Congress must have been desperate to field Brajesh Kumar–he had lost by over 28,000 votes in 2015—that it let go of his dubious past. Ravish Kumar, the ‘fearless’ journalist, who in his Primetime Show gives sermons on ideals and how political leaders have lost conscience has somehow magically accepted the fact that the victim girl had taken the case back without any pressure from his brother or other influential politicians.
Speaking truth to power has a different meaning altogether when the perpetrator is your own brother, innit? Even in 2017, Kumar had released a rather ‘diplomatic’ statement only after he was taken to the cleaners on social media platforms for observing a stoic silence on the whole issue.