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The Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday booked ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker Ravindranath Tripathi, his nephew, and five other family members for allegedly raping a woman, in her 30s, from 2016 to 2017 and forcing her to abort her two-month pregnancy, two officer said.

Bhadohi superintendent of police Rambadan Singh said the accused have been charged under Indian Penal Code’s Sections 376 D (gang rape), 504 (intentional insult) and 506 (criminal intimidation). He identified the other accused as Sandip Tripathi, Nitesh, Prakash, Deepak, Sachin Tripathi and Chandrabhushan Tripathi. “A team has been constituted to investigate the matter,” he said.

Ravindranath Tripathi, who is a lawmaker from Bhadohi, denied the charges and said neither he nor his relatives have ever known the woman, who has registered the First Information Report at a police station in Bhadohi. He called the allegations baseless and said he and his family were being defamed at the behest of a sand mining mafia.

The SP said the woman has told police that the lawmaker’s nephew got into a relationship with her in 2016 after promising to marry her. She has accused him of sexually exploiting her, the SP said. The woman has alleged that she was put up at a hotel in Bhadohi, where the BJP lawmaker, his three sons, and two nephews also allegedly raped her during the 2017 Uttar Pradesh polls.

Bhadohi police superintendent Rambadan Singh said the woman has alleged Sandip Tripathi, who is the lawmaker’s nephew, met her on a Mumbai-bound train in 2014 when she was going to meet her parents. “She claimed that Sandip took her mobile number and started talking to her. She alleged that MLA’s nephew had established physical relations with her on the pretext of marrying her.”

According to the SP, the woman claimed she told Sandip Tripathi about the Bhadohi hotel incident, but he asked her to keep mum and started ignoring her requests for getting married. He allegedly recently threatened her with dire consequences if she insisted on marrying him, the SP added.

Reacting to the development, Congress leader Ajay Rai sought strict action against the accused. “The ruling party should explain what action it is going to take against its lawmaker,” he said

The BJP in August last expelled another Uttar Pradesh lawmaker, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, two years after he was accused of raping a 17-year-old girl. The expulsion came after Sengar was booked for his alleged involvement in a crash in which the accuser and her lawyer were injured while two of her aunts were killed. A speeding truck had rammed the car in which the four were travelling. The BJP faced much criticism from the opposition for delayed action against Sengar.