The special women court in Mumbai on Thursday sentenced to death convict Ankur Panwar for murder of Delhi resident Preeti Rathi in May 2013.
Earlier Mumbai sessions court, on Tuesday, convicted Ankur Panwar for murder Rathi because he was jealous of the latter's success. He threw acid on her, leading to her death.
Earlier out of the 37 witnesses that the prosecutor examined during the trial, three identified Ankur from the acid attack, even though he had tied a handkerchief across his face at the time. He had boarded the same train Preeti had taken to Mumbai and when she got off at Bandra Terminus, he covered his face and put his hands on her shoulder. As she turned to see who it was, he flung acid on her. Preeti’s mouth was open, and she swallowed some of the acid. She suffered 12-15% burns on her face, neck, arms and deep internal injuries in her throat. She died a month later – a fact that the defence lawyer used during the trial, claiming that it was medical negligence, not the acid attack that killed Preeti. However, the court rejected this argument.
Although her father, aunt and uncle had accompanied her on the journey, they did not see the face of the culprit. But he was identified by Pankaj Malve, an agent who saw him stepping out of the train. Later, as Ankur fled from the crime scene, the handkerchief slipped from his face, and he was spotted by two more witnesses – bottle sellers Sameer Shaikh and Salim Shaikh.
Delhi resident Preeti had just completed her nursing course and was selected as a lieutenant nurse in the Indian Navy. On May 2, 2013, she was to report for her first day at naval hospital INHS Asvini and had just reached Bandra Terminus along with her father, when her neighbour, Panwar, threw acid on her.
When the police finally caught up with him in January 2014, almost a year after the incident, they learnt that he had attacked her because he was jealous of her success. Despite spending an exorbitant amount of money on his hotel management education, Ankur was unemployed and was constantly taunted by his parents, who compared him to the younger, more successful Preeti.