A day after a special women’s court convicted Ankur Panwar (25) for flinging acid on Preeti Rathi as she was stepping off a train at Bandra Terminus in 2013, the prosecution argued that he must be awarded the death sentence for killing the victim in such a barbaric manner.
Referring to Panwar’s act as “butchery”, Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam said, “The barbaric incident has shocked society at large. Hence, he should be awarded the death sentence.”
Nikam explained that Panwar didn’t commit the crime in the heat of the moment but had planned it in advance to punish Rathi for defying his wishes. Both of them lived in the same neighbourhood, and Panwar had proposed marriage to her. However, he was enraged when she rejected his advances. He was also upset that while he was unemployed, Preeti had found a lucrative job as a naval nurse in Mumbai.
Nikam pointed out that 15 days before Preeti was to join duty, Panwar threatened her not to proceed to Mumbai. But Preeti, being a strong girl, didn’t pay heed to his threat and went ahead.
“It is a case of unilateral love. The accused is a heartless person; he didn’t throw acid at her in Delhi because his threat was to not go to Mumbai. A brainless person is an unfortunate soul, but a heartless person is a curse to the society. His intention was clear – ‘love me or I will kill you’. Such a sadist person gets pleasure if the victim dies in pain and agony,” Nikam added.
Due to the acid attack, Preeti sustained burns on her skin and internally and fought for her life for a month, before breathing her last on June 1, 2013. “During this time, she went though immense pain, which she couldn’t even express. She lost her vision, lungs, there were acid injuries on her chest and hands and her vocal cords were damaged. She was on ventilator on the last day,” Nikam told the court.
Nikam said, “When a butcher cuts a goat, it is helpless and cannot cry or shout. At least nature has blessed the goat with absence of reason. The goat doesn’t understand what the butcher and customer are discussing and remains happy. However, Preeti was not even that fortunate. She suffered from mental pain and agony but was unable to express it. This was 100 per cent helplessness.”
Panwar’s advocate, Apeksha Vora, asked for a lesser sentence and said, “The death of Preeti was not because of Panwar but because of the negligence of the hospital.” Vora also pointed out that this is not a rarest of rare case that would justify the death sentence, and said that Panwar is not a menace to society. She further asked the court to consider Panwar’s “tender age”. While Panwar is 25 now, Preeti died at 23. The court will declare the sentence today.