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Pallavi Purkayastha's killer gets life imprisonment

Mumbai: A Mumbai court on Monday awarded life sentence to a watchman earlier convicted of murdering and molesting a woman lawyer, Pallavi Purkayastha.

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The Himalayan Heights building in Wadala. (Inset) Pallavi Purkayastha 

Sajjad A. Pathan alias Mogal, 23, worked at the Himalayan Heights apartments when he stabbed to death the 25-year-old woman on August 9, 2012. The victim was the daughter of a senior bureaucrat couple. Last week, Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi pronounced Mogal guilty and said "a case of murder, molestation and criminal trespass has been proved" against him.

 Sessions Judge Vrushali Joshi observed that the crime did not fall in the "rarest of rare" category and hence Mogal should be imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Last week, the judge pronounced Mogal guilty and said "a case of murder, molestation and criminal trespass has been proved" against him. Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam had sought death penalty for the man, spelling out the cruel nature of the crime and listing out various factors, including how the victim's fiance Avik Sengupta died due to the shock of her death.

Defence lawyer Wahab Khan argued for life sentence, saying Mogal was only 22-year-old when he committed the crime and was the sole breadwinner of his family in Jammu and Kashmir. Police filed a 434-page chargesheet against Mogal in October 2012 following an investigation. During the trial, 43 witnesses were examined.

Mogal refuted all allegations against him while his lawyer contended that Purkayastha's fiance had killed her. The investigation revealed that Mogal, a watchman in the apartment building, used to ogle at Purkayastha whenever she passed by. 

Police said Mogal had once deliberately tripped her electricity meter. When Purkayastha called an electrician, Mogal accompanied him to her flat and quietly managed to grab the flat keys. Later, Mogal confessed that he entered Purkayastha's flat using a duplicate key and attempted to force himself on her. 

However, she resisted and started screaming following which he panicked and attacked her with a knife. Shortly after Mogal's conviction last week, the victim's parents - Atanu Purkayastha and Sunita Purkayastha - expressed satisfaction with the police investigation and the conviction.

Atanu Purkayastha was a joint secretary with the central government when Pallavi was killed. His wife is a director-general in the ministry of telecommunications. "Our families (Puryakastha and Sengupta) have undergone a lot of trauma... We demand death for him as it will send a positive message to society," they had told reporters last week.
Avik Sengupta, who was one of the witnesses in the case and had deposed in the trial, died of natural causes in November 2013.

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